In my previous post on the United State’s failure to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Law of Sea, I discussed how U.S. opposition to international organizations as a whole has manifested as symbolic opposition to that treaty in particular. Because of the relatively low stakes that have been at play when it comes to ratifying or not ratifying the Convention, political factions have largely ignored the merits of joining LOST, and instead have turned ratification of LOST into a more general referendum on whether or not international organizations are bad for America.
It turns out that there is currently an even better example of such symbolic anti-UN posturing. Conservative groups hostile to U.S. engagement with international organizations have a new cause célèbre to advocate against: Agenda 21.
Agenda 21 is a United Nations “action plan” designed to promote an international commitment to sustainable development. It was adopted by the UN in 1992 as a “a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment.” But Agenda 21 is a squishy, aspirational document. It has zero teeth, and is more akin to an advertising campaign than to international law. It is not promoted by any specific bloc of states, and it is not designed to defuse any active political conflicts.
Which means Agenda 21 is the perfect anti-UN scapegoat. “Opposing” Agenda 21 is harmless and devoid of immediate practical consequences — there is no risk of offending any specific state by opposing it, nor any risk that opposition to Agenda 21 could have any serious consequences to our international relations.
And so Agenda 21 has been chosen as a pet cause to rally anti-UN sentiment behind. To many conservative organizations, Agenda 21 is a nefarious plot designed to destroy national sovereignty, eliminate private property rights, and establish a socialist world government. It is alleged that Agenda 21 seeks the following goals: [PDF]
- The step by step abolition of private property, primarily through the implementation of the Wildlands Project and Smart Growth.
- Education of youth to prepare them for global citizenship.
- Control and ultimate reduction of human population
Moreover, they believe that Agenda 21 is a real and immediate threat to American freedoms, which will eliminate capitalism and property rights through the introduction of initiatives such as “Smart Growth development standards in every metropolitan area within the United States,” which would implement plans for “a concentration of high rise living, ‘mixed use buildings,’ ‘walkable communities’ with mass transit such as light rail, and bicycle trails.” God save us all.
In January of this year, the Republican National Committee decided to don the tinfoil cap as well, and adopted a “Resolution Exposing United Nations Agenda 21” into its national party platform:
WHEREAS, the United Nations Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of extreme environmentalism, social engineering, and global political control that was initiated at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992; and,
WHEREAS, the United Nations Agenda 21 is being covertly pushed into local communities throughout the United States of America through the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) through local “sustainable development” policies such as Smart Growth, Wildlands Project, Resilient Cities, Regional Visioning Projects, and other “Green” or “Alternative” projects; and,
WHEREAS, this United Nations Agenda 21 plan of radical so-called “sustainable development” views the American way of life of private property ownership, single family homes, private car ownership and individual travel choices, and privately owned farms; all as destructive to the environment; and,
WHEREAS, according to the United Nations Agenda 21 policy, social justice is described as the right and opportunity of all people to benefit equally from the resources afforded us by society and the environment which would be accomplished by socialist/communist redistribution of wealth; and,
WHEREAS, according to the United Nations Agenda 21 policy National sovereignty is deemed a social injustice; now therefore be
RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee recognizes the destructive and insidious nature of United Nations Agenda 21 and hereby exposes to the public and public policy makers the dangerous intent of the plan; and therefore be it further
RESOLVED , that the U.S. government and no state or local government is legally bound by the United Nations Agenda 21 treaty in that it has never been endorsed by the (U.S.) Senate, and therefore be it further
RESOLVED, that the federal and state and local governments across the country be well informed of the underlying harmful implications of implementation of United Nations Agenda 21 destructive strategies for “sustainable development” and we hereby endorse rejection of its radical policies and rejection of any grant monies attached to it, and therefore be it further
RESOLVED, that upon the approval of this resolution the Republican National Committee shall deliver a copy of this resolution to each of the Republican members of Congress, all Republican candidates for Congress, all Republican candidates for President who qualify for RNC sanctioned debates, and to each Republican state and territorial party office and recommend for adoption into the Republican Party Platform at the 2012 Convention.
In response to the RNC’s Resolution, state legislatures all around the U.S. have been bravely combatting the threat of United Nations Agenda 21, by passing symbolic resolutions declaring Agenda 21 to be a threat to capitalism, the U.S., and single family homes.
It’s kind of poetic, in a way. Largely symbolic resolutions, being passed to combat largely symbolic declarations.
But it’s also completely insane. True, there is not much harm to be had from such antics, but to some degree it could undermine the Federal government’s ability to speak in a unified voice when it comes to international environmental law and policy. And also it makes America look like a bunch of complete idiots.
Of the three, Alabama wins the award for nuttiest legislative initiative. Last week, Alabama’s governor signed into law an act prohibiting Alabaman state agencies from entering into any contractual relations with unspecified “non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations”:
Under existing law, the state, subject to certain federal laws or rules, has the right to develop its environmental and developmental policies. This bill would prohibit the State of Alabama and its political subdivisions from adopting and developing environmental and developmental policies that, without due process, would infringe or restrict the private property rights of the owner of the property.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA:
(b) The State of Alabama and all political subdivisions may not adopt or implement policy recommendations that deliberately or inadvertently infringe or restrict private property rights without due process, as may be required by policy recommendations originating in, or traceable to “Agenda 21,” adopted by the United Nations in 1992 at its Conference on Environment and Development or any other international law or ancillary plan of action that contravenes the Constitution of the United States or the Constitution of the State of Alabama.
(c) Since the United Nations has accredited and enlisted numerous non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations to assist in the implementation of its policies relative to Agenda 21 around the world, the State of Alabama and all political subdivisions may not enter into any agreement, expend any sum of money, or receive funds contracting services, or giving [sic] financial aid to or from those non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations as defined in Agenda 21.
According to the executive director of the Alabama Republican Party, the Alabama Act is intended to “shelter Alabamians” from “a precursor for the creation of a world government.”
Tennessee and Kansas both passed more symbolic anti-Agenda 21 resolutions. The one passed in Tennessee was almost identical to the Resolution as adopted by the Republican National Committee, but Tennessee did at least take the step of correcting one of the resolution’s blatant inaccuracies. It replaced this resolving paragraph
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that neither the U.S. government nor any state or local government is legally bound by the United Nations Agenda 21 treaty in that it has never been endorsed by the U.S. Senate
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that neither the U.S. government nor any state or local government is legally bound by the United Nations Agenda 21 in that it is not treaty [sic] which has ever been endorsed by the U.S. Senate.
One would think that the qualifier “which has ever been endorsed by the U.S. Senate” would be rendered unnecessary by the fact that Agenda 21 is not, in fact, instrument that could be endorsed by the Senate in the first place. Apparently not.
In addition to the three states that passed bills, an Anti-Agenda 21 bill remains pending in Louisiana. Luckily, although Georgia, Arizona, and Minnesota also considered similar resolutions, those states ultimately decided against joining the conspiracy theorists. New Hampshire’s House of Representatives likewise had the good sense to kill a similar bill, which would have created a committee to “study procedures to prevent the implementation of United Nations Agenda 21 into the state, counties, regional commissions, towns, and cities; other implementation by nongovernmental organizations; the clarification of constitutional issues relevant to the study; and any related concerns with the implementation of United Nations Agenda 21.”
But Alabama and the Republican National Committee, at least, are not going to stand idly by while our freedoms and rights are trampled by the international community. Without laws symbolically denouncing this socialist conspiracy, our great Nation could be at risk from the horrors of mixed-use buildings and bicycle trails.