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XVI. INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS; PROBLEMS OF GLOBALIZATION AND SECULARISM

XVI.1. 1.Nations and countries enter into economic, political, military and other relations with one another. As a result, nations emerge or disappear, change their borders, unite or break up, create or abolish various unions. In Holy Scriptures, there is much historical evidence about the building of international relations.

One of the first examples of an inter-tribal treaty concluded between a master of a land, Abemelech, and a foreigner, Abraham, is given in the Book of Genesis: “Abemelech... spoke to Abraham, saying: Now swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son: but according to the kindness that I have done to you, you shall do to me, and to the land wherein you have sojourned. And Abraham said, I will swear... and both of them made a covenant.” (Gen. 21:22-24, 27). Treaties reduced the danger of war and confrontation (Gen. 26:26-3 1; Jos. 9:3-27). Sometimes negotiations and demonstrations of good will prevented bloodshed (I Sam. 25:18-35; 2 Sam. 21:15-22). Treaties ended wars (I King 20:26-34). The Bible mentions military unions (Gen. 14:13; Judg. 3:12-13; 1 Kings 22:2-29; Jer. 37:5-7). Sometimes military aid was bought for money or other material goods (2 Kings 16:7-9; 1 Kings 15:17-20). The agreement between Hiram and Solomon was actually an economic union: “My servants shall be with your servants: and I will hire your servants according to all that you shall appoint: for you know that there is not among us any who have the skill to hew timber like the Sidonians... and the two formed an alliance together” (I Kings 5:6, 12). Negotiations through envoys was used to settle such matters as the passing of armed people through others’ land (Num. 20:14-17; 21:21-22) and territorial disputes (Judg. 11:12-28). Treaties could include the transfer of land from one people to another (I Kings 9:10-12; 1 Kings 20:34).

The Bible also contains descriptions of diplomatic ruses resorted to in order to be protected from a powerful enemy (Jos. 9:3-27; 2 Sam. 15:32-37; 16:16-19; 17:1-16). Sometimes peace was bought (2 Kings 12:18) or paid for by tribute. Certainly, one of the means for settling disputes and conflicts was war, and the Old Testament books abound in references to it. However, in Holy Scriptures there are examples of negotiations aimed at avoiding war, even just before it threatens to begin (2 Kings 14:9- 10). The practice of reaching agreement in the Old Testament times was based on religious and moral principles. Thus, even a treaty with the Gibeonites, who used deception to reach it, was recognized as valid by virtue of its sacred formula: “We have sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them” (Jos. 9:19). The Bible contains a prohibition on concluding union with vicious pagan tribes (Ex. 34:15). However, the Hebrews occasionally swerved from this commandment. Various treaties and unions were also often broken.

The Christian ideal of a nation’s and government’s behavior in international relations lies in the Golden Rule: “Whatever you wish people to do to you, do the same to them”(Mt. 7:12). Applying this principle not only to personal but also to social life, Orthodox Christians should remember that “God is found not in power but in truth.” At the same time, if justice is violated, restrictive and even forceful actions are often needed towards other nations and states to rectify it. Human nature being distorted by sin, nations and states inevitably have differing interests dictated by the desire to possess land, to enjoy political and military dominion, and to derive maximum possible profit from production and trade. For this reason, the need that arises to defend one’s fellow countrymen places certain restrictions on the readiness of the individual to sacrifice his own interests for the sake of other people. Nevertheless, Orthodox Christians and their communities are called to strive for such international relations that would promote, to the greatest possible extent, the welfare and legitimate interests of their own people, neighboring nations and the entire human family.

Relationships among nations and states should be directed to peace, mutual aid and cooperation. St. Paul admonishes Christians: “If it be possible, as much as lies within you, live peaceably with all people” (Rom. 12:18). St. Philaret of Moscow, in his speech on the occasion of thel856 peace treaty, says: “Let us remember the law and fulfill the will of the Divine Prince of Peace: not to remember evil; to forgive offences; and to be in peace even with ‘him who hates peace’ (Ps. 120:6), and even more so with those who offer an end of enmity and a hand of peace.” Conscious that international disputes and contradictions are inevitable in a fallen world, the Church calls the powers that be to settle any conflicts through a search for mutually acceptable agreements. She identifies with the victims of aggression and illegitimate and morally unjustifiable political pressure from outside. The use of military force is believed by the Church to be the last resort in defense against armed aggression from other nations. This defense can also be carried out with the assistance of a country which is not an immediate object of attack by the attacker.

States base their relations with the outside world on the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. These principles are viewed by the Church as basic to a people’s defense of their legitimate interests and as the comer stone of international treaties and, therefore, of the whole of international law. At the same time, it is evident to the Christian consciousness that any human ordinance, including the sovereign power of a state, is relative before Almighty God. History has shown that the life, borders and forms of nations are changeable, since they are created not just on a territorial and ethnic basis, but also on economic, political, military and other such grounds. Without denying the historical significance of the mono-ethnic state, the Orthodox Church, at the same time, welcomes the voluntary unification of nations into one entity and the creation of multinational states, as long as the rights of any people are not violated in them. At the same time, it should be admitted that in today’s world there is a certain contradiction between the universally accepted principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity on the one hand, and the search by a people (or by a segment of them) for state independence,, on the other. Disputes and conflicts arising from this contradiction should be settled by peaceful means, on the basis of dialogue, with the greatest possible agreement between the parties. Remembering that unity is good and disunity is bad, the Church welcomes the tendency for unification of countries and nations, especially those with common history and culture, provided that this unification is not directed against a third party. The Church grieves when a multiethnic state is divided up, resulting in the destruction of an historical community of people, the violation of their rights, and the suffering that comes to their lives. The division of a multinational state can be justified only if one of the peoples is clearly oppressed or the majority of a country do not show a definite will to preserve unity.

Recent history has shown that the separation of several states in Eurasia has brought an artificial rupture between peoples, families and business communities and led to the forced resettling and ousting of various ethnic, religious and social groups, in which they have also lost their holy shrines. Attempts to create mono-national states on the ruins of unions have led to bloody inter-ethnic conflicts, which have shaken Eastern Europe.

In light of this, it is necessary to recognize the benefit of inter-state unions which have as their goals: to unite efforts in political and economic spheres; to create common defense against external threats; and to help the victims of aggression. Inter-state cooperation in economy and trade should fall under the same ethical rules as individual economic and entrepreneurial activity. Interaction of nations and states in this field should be based on honesty, justice and desire to make the fruits of common labor acceptable to all participants (see XVI. 3). International cooperation in cultural, scientific, educational and informational fields is welcome if it is built on the basis of equanimity and mutual respect, and is aimed at enriching the experience, knowledge and creativity of every participating nation.
 
XVI.2. In the 20’h century, multilateral inter-state agreements have resulted in the establishment of a comprehensive system of international law obligatory for signatories of its conventions. There are also international organizations whose resolutions are obligatory for their member states. Some of these organizations have powers delegated to them by governments to be exercised in economic, political and military activities, and applied not only in international relations, but also in the internal life of nations. Legal and political regionalization and globalization are becoming a reality.

On the one hand, the development of inter-state relations in this direction helps to intensify commercial, industrial, military, political and other cooperation-the necessity dictated by the natural intensification of international relations and the need for a common response to the global challenges of our time. In the history of Orthodoxy, there are examples of the positive influence made by the Church on the development of regional inter-state relations. International organizations help to settle various disputes and conflicts. On the other hand, the danger of differences that may emerge between the people’s will and international organizations’ decisions should not be underestimated. These organizations may become instruments for the unfair domination of strong over weak countries, rich over poor, the technologically and informationally developed over the rest. They also may practice double standards when applying international law to the interests of more influential states.

All this compels the Orthodox Church to take a critical and careful approach to legal and political internationalization, calling upon the powers that be, on both national and international levels, to unequivocal responsibility. Any decision involved in concluding a fateful international treaty and defining the country’s stance within an international organization should be made in accordance with the will of the people, who have been fully and objectively informed of the nature and consequences of the decisions planned. In implementing a policy obligatory by an international agreement or the action of an international organization, governments should maintain the spiritual, cultural and other identity of their countries and nations and the legitimate interests of their states. Within international organizations themselves, it is necessary to ensure the equality of sovereign states regarding access to decision-making and the right to cast votes, especially in defining basic international standards. Conflict situations and disputes should be resolved only with the participation and consent of all the parties whose vital interests are involved in every specific case. The adoption of compulsory decisions without the consent of the state to be directly affected appears possible only in the case of aggression or massacre within that country.

Keeping in mind the need to exert spiritual and moral influence on the actions of political leaders, to cooperate with them, to show concern for the needs of people- collective and individual -- the Church inters into dialogue and cooperation with international organizations. Within this process, she invariably shows her conviction in the absolute importance of faith and spirituality for human work, decisions and laws.
 
XVI.3. Globalization not only has political and legal, but also economic and cultural-informational dimensions. In its economic dimension, globalization is manifested in the emergence of transnational corporations which have accumulated considerable material and financial resources and have employed an enormous number of people in various countries. Those standing at the head of international economic and financial structures have concentrated in their hands great power-power that is beyond the control of nations and even governments, in fact, beyond any limit, be it a national border, an ethnic and cultural identity, or the need for ecological and demographic sustainability. Sometimes they refuse to reckon with the customs and religious traditions of the nations involved in the implementation of their plans. The Church cannot but be concerned also for the practice of financial speculations that obliterate the dependence of income on the effort spent. Among various forms of this speculation are “financial pyramids,” the collapse of which causes large-scale upheaval. In general, such changes in the economy result in the loss of priority that labor and man have over capital and the means of production.

In its cultural and informational dimensions, globalization has been conditioned by the development of technologies facilitating the movement of people and goods, and the acquisition and distribution of information. Societies that were previously separated by distances and borders, and therefore were predominantly homogeneous, now come in touch easily with other cultures, and become multi-cultural. This process, however, has been accompanied by attempts to establish the dominion of the rich elite over the rest of the people, and of some cultures and world-views over others, which is especially intolerable in the religious realm. As a result, there is a tendency to present as the only possible alternative, a universal culture devoid of any spirituality-and based on the freedom of fallen man, unrestricted in anything-as the absolute value and measure-stick of the truth. Globalization developing in this way is compared by many in Christendom to the construction of the Tower of Babel.

While recognizing globalization as inevitable and natural-and in many ways facilitating people’s communication, dissemination of information and more effective production and enterprise-the Church points to the internal contradictions of these processes and to their threats. First, along with changing the conventional ways of organizing production, globalization also begins to change the conventional ways of organizing society and exercising power. Second, many of the positive fruits of globalization are available only to nations comprising a small portion of humanity, but having a similar economic and political system. Other nations, comprising five-sixths of the world’s population, have found themselves on the margins of world civilization. They have been caught in debt dependence on financiers in a few industrial countries and cannot create dignified living conditions for themselves. Discontent and disillusionment are growing among them.

The Church raises the question concerning the need to establish comprehensive control over transnational corporations and the processes taking place in the financial sector of the economy. This control, aimed at subjecting any entrepreneurial and financial activity to the best interests of mankind and its peoples, should be exercised by all means available to society and nations.

Spiritual and cultural expansion-whose goal is total unification-should be opposed through the combined efforts of the Church, state structures, civil society and international organizations, for the sake of asserting in the world a truly equitable and mutually enriching cultural and informational exchange, combined with efforts to protect the distinctive identity of nations and other human communities. One of the ways to accomplish this is to ensure access to basic technological resources for all countries and nations, which will enable them to disseminate and to receive information on a global scale. The Church reminds us that many national cultures have Christian roots. The followers of Christ therefore are called to promote the interconnectedness of the faith and the cultural heritage of nations, resolutely opposing any manifestations of anti-culture and commercialization of the space allocated to information and the arts.

Generally, the challenge of globalization demands that contemporary society should give an appropriate response, based on concern for a peaceful and dignified life for all people and combined with efforts for their spiritual perfection. In addition, efforts should be made to achieve a world order which would be based on the principles of justice and the equality of people before God, and would exclude any suppression of their will by the centers of political, economic and informational influence.
 
XVI.4. The contemporary international legal system is based on the priority given to the interests of the earthly life of man and human communities over religious values (especially in those cases when the former and the latter come into conflict). This priority is sanctioned by the national legislation of many countries. It is often built into the principles regulating various activities of the governmental bodies, public educational system, etc. Many influential public mechanisms use the same principle in their open confrontation with faith and the Church, with the objective of ousting them from public life. These manifestations create a general picture of the secularization of public and social life.

While respecting the world-view of non-religious people and their right to influence social processes, the Church cannot favor a world order that puts in the center of everything the human personality darkened by sin. This is why, while invariably open to cooperation with people of non-religious convictions, the Church seeks to assert Christian values in the process of decision-making on the most important public issues both on national and international levels. She strives for the recognition of the legality of a religious world-view as a basis for socially significant action (including those taken by states), and as an essential factor which should influence the development (amendment) of international law and the work of international organizations.
 
 
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