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[DISCARDED] Repeal: "Ban on Secret Treaties"

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Refuge Isle
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[DISCARDED] Repeal: "Ban on Secret Treaties"

Postby Refuge Isle » Tue Nov 19, 2019 5:03 pm

As it is permissible to have multiple drafts on the same theme, this is my incarnation of a GAR#408 repeal. My research into this topic has shown that there's been a number of mentions of this resolution over the last two years, usually mockingly, and a lot of discussion about the efficacy and legality of the style used to make it. But nothing really goes into detail or makes a more comprehensive argument against it. So it's been running through my head for a couple days and here we are.

Draft 1 wrote:The General Assembly,

Recalling how this chamber has previously affirmed that the nature and influence of secret treaties

  1. pose an encumbrance on government leadership and their staff when members are excluded from an internal cabal to the detriment of making informed decisions,
  2. cloud the realities of a diplomatic situation by presenting whatever conflicting information is necessary to negotiate, establish, and maintain secret treaties, and
  3. create or exploit fractures within or between governments where discrepancies in a nation's foreign policy result in an international crisis,

Conceding that international agreements, beneficial to their members' stability, security, or economic well-being, can be the products of privately negotiated and established treaties when the challenges of conventional diplomatic exchanges would be politically or culturally insurmountable,

Believing the doors should remain open to world leaders and their diplomats who would only be willing to work toward a cessation of hostilities in a private forum, achieving steady progress through secret agreements, without fear of retaliation from their own citizenry or members of their own government,

Concerned that member states who are faced with mounting threats from a neighbouring military power are legislated out of the ability to establish defensive alliances in secret as a means of security against the risk of attack or invasion,

Lamenting that the resolution, which was sold on the premise of preventing subversive diplomacy, merely establishes a bureaucratic arm of the World Assembly by creating a committee to receive and publish documents indiscriminately, as submitted by member states in compliance with the resolution,

Aware that any nation may intentionally lengthen their treaties to include limitless volumes of text in order to obfuscate the agreement's true purpose during publication, or establish absurd quantities of treaties by this process in order to conceal which of the reported treaties are meaningful to parties with a vested interest,

Whereas such an alarming technique has already been used within the fourth clause of the resolution to establish an extraordinary redefinition of the words "secret treaty" to reference various felines and military weaponry,

The membership of this venerable body, in concluding that such an ineffective branch of its government merely adds paperwork to the desires of bad actors, while placing unfair and arbitrary restrictions on nations that rely on their diplomatic abilities to maintain the peace,

Hereby repeals GAR#408 "Ban on Secret Treaties".
Last edited by Ransium on Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:47 am, edited 29 times in total.

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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Thu Nov 28, 2019 11:36 pm

I had noticed this when the campaign telegram popped in to my inbox. Two questions. First, by what mechanism does a secret alliance procure its deterrent value? Second, why would a reasonable nation deliberately engage in surplusage when doing so could create binding ramifications of a negative nature?

EDIT: If this is the described technique:
[some] intentional[] lengthen[ing of] their treaties to include limitless volumes of text [...] or establish[ing of] absurd quantities of treaties

How can the claim below be true, when the length of the target resolution is not limitless and not spread over an absurd quantity of resolutions?
Whereas such an alarming technique has already been used within the fourth clause of the resolution[...]


EDIT: Some formatting and prose errors.
Last edited by Imperium Anglorum on Thu Nov 28, 2019 11:43 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby Bitely » Fri Nov 29, 2019 6:22 am

Gregory supports this on the simple fact that it's a repeal.
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Postby Refuge Isle » Fri Nov 29, 2019 7:56 am

Imperium Anglorum wrote:First, by what mechanism does a secret alliance procure its deterrent value?

I never said that its function was to be a deterrent, I said that being unable to form alliances in private tied the hands of nations who wanted to build security in the threat of attack or invasion. In these cases, I would imagine a threatening nation, which may be planning on invading anyway, doing so immediately when the target nation began to reach out and seek alliances publicly. Establishing those in private would be in that nation's interest.

I believe I answered your second question excessively in the draft, but I believe fully in diplomat's ability to spam it up for imbroglio without legislating where they don't intend. IC diplomats are professionals. To your edit:
Imperium Anglorum wrote:How can the claim below be true, when the length of the target resolution is not limitless and not spread over an absurd quantity of resolutions?

You are misreading my text. Your resolution is not required to have a literally infinite volume of text. Rather, there is no cap on the volume of text that can be a part of a treaty because restricting that would be ridiculous. However, if you were able to slip "military-grade weapons and feline animals of varying sizes with tabby coats" into the last clause of a tremendously wordy and grandiose resolution, then clearly the value of publishing treaties in plain sight for everyone to read (And in the WA's case, vote on) provides no actual rider-deterrent value, nor functionally "bans" laws from being set secretly. (Where "secretly" in this paragraph shall mean something a treaty's author would not like to be widely known)
Last edited by Refuge Isle on Fri Nov 29, 2019 8:09 am, edited 6 times in total.

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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Fri Nov 29, 2019 10:14 am

So your position is that other people not knowing that we will be defended somehow produces more deterrence than if they do. What a position.

Also, your characterisation of this target as wordy and grandiose belies some truly great terminological inexactitude.
Last edited by Imperium Anglorum on Fri Nov 29, 2019 10:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Kenmoria » Fri Nov 29, 2019 10:49 am

“I find issue with the idea that a government wouldn’t be bothered to read through a long treaty, especially if it were with a known enemy. This seems like the sort of issue that might stop a few individuals, not an entire nation.”
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Postby Refuge Isle » Fri Nov 29, 2019 11:40 am

Imperium Anglorum wrote:So your position is that other people not knowing that we will be defended somehow produces more deterrence than if they do. What a position.


You continue to mischaracterise my argument to the point of absurdity. Drop deterrence, I have already said that is not what this clause talks about.


Concerned that member states who are faced with mounting threats from a neighbouring military power are legislated out of the ability to establish defensive alliances in secret as a means of security against the risk of attack or invasion,

This clause imagines this scenario:

If Nation A is being threatened by Nation B, and believes their only chance to survive a war with Nation B is to form an alliance with Nation C, it would be difficult to do so if Nation B picked up on the winds that it was happening and invaded before it was finalised.

If Nation C is only asked for an alliance after Nation A is a lost cause because Nation B headed them off, then Nation A is simply dead, but rests easily knowing that at least the WA standards on secret treaties was upheld.


Imperium Anglorum wrote:Also, your characterisation of this target as wordy and grandiose belies some truly great terminological inexactitude.

Now, therefore, be it enacted by this august and most excellent World Assembly, by and with the advice and consent of the Delegates and Members, in this present session assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows :—

If this can't be classified as grandiose word spam, I don't know what is, but I suspect it helped people tune out before the tabby cats.

Kenmoria wrote:“I find issue with the idea that a government wouldn’t be bothered to read through a long treaty, especially if it were with a known enemy. This seems like the sort of issue that might stop a few individuals, not an entire nation.”

That is exactly my point. There is no way to form alliances in secret by word spam or not.

However, if a nation wanted to form, for example, a controversial international trade agreement with a number of hidden clauses about copyrights, environmental exceptions, trading products with moral strings like prison labour products or ivory, this would be the method by which to get around your local news reporting agencies and watchdog groups.

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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Fri Nov 29, 2019 12:24 pm

So you mean to say that the target bans secret negotiations?

But really? The complaint now is that the target is too long? This is great. I love it! Hahahaha
Last edited by Imperium Anglorum on Fri Nov 29, 2019 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Marxist Germany » Fri Nov 29, 2019 12:31 pm

Imperium Anglorum wrote:So you mean to say that the target bans secret negotiations?

But really? The complaint now is that the target is too long? This is great. I love it! Hahahaha

OOC: Not the target but rather the "hereby" part
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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Fri Nov 29, 2019 12:33 pm

This just in: The UK Parliament is trying to conceal things from us by making their enacting clauses take up two lines on a screen! This is cause to break up the United Kingdom!

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Postby Refuge Isle » Fri Nov 29, 2019 12:33 pm

Imperium Anglorum wrote:So you mean to say that the target bans secret negotiations?

The target bans secret agreements within a certain set of parameters. Those parameters can be sidestepped in mundane situations where the average reporter or citizen who wishes to be apprised of government happenings may be unwilling to follow and wade through eight hundred pages of daily briefings to find out where the important sentence is.

Those parameters will still bind nations to specific conduct in situations where their national security is at risk and bad actors are not dissuaded by work levels.

As a result, for what the resolution's aims are, it fails to achieve them where the rule is weak and it undermines nations where the rule is strong.

Imperium Anglorum wrote:But really? The complaint now is that the target is too long? This is great. I love it! Hahahaha

You asked for where you were grandiose and I responded? Who is this performance for?
Last edited by Refuge Isle on Fri Nov 29, 2019 12:37 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby Marxist Germany » Fri Nov 29, 2019 12:35 pm

Imperium Anglorum wrote:This just in: The UK Parliament is trying to conceal things from us by making their enacting clauses take up two lines on a screen! This is cause to break up the United Kingdom!

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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Fri Nov 29, 2019 12:35 pm

That doesn't answer the question. Are secret negotiations affected, which is what your arguments imply?

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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Fri Nov 29, 2019 12:38 pm

> Lamenting that the resolution[] merely establishes a bureaucratic arm of the World Assembly

Mobile. Formatting to follow. How is this statement true? The resolution clearly does other things beyond establishing a bureaucratic agency. Is this not an honest mistake?
Last edited by Imperium Anglorum on Fri Nov 29, 2019 1:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Separatist Peoples » Fri Nov 29, 2019 12:47 pm

Bitely wrote:Gregory supports this on the simple fact that it's a repeal.

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Postby Kenmoria » Fri Nov 29, 2019 1:06 pm

Refuge Isle wrote:
Kenmoria wrote:“I find issue with the idea that a government wouldn’t be bothered to read through a long treaty, especially if it were with a known enemy. This seems like the sort of issue that might stop a few individuals, not an entire nation.”

That is exactly my point. There is no way to form alliances in secret by word spam or not.

(OOC: In that case, you appear to be berating a clause for acting in concordance with the resolution’s stated purpose. The entire point of the legislation was to ban secret treaties, and a mandate that does so is to be completely expected.

However, if a nation wanted to form, for example, a controversial international trade agreement with a number of hidden clauses about copyrights, environmental exceptions, trading products with moral strings like prison labour products or ivory, this would be the method by which to get around your local news reporting agencies and watchdog groups.

Even if a particularly verbose treaty were to dissuade watchdogs, that isn’t really something that can be addressed by the GA; to do so would be a huge micromanagement. Besides, it is the responsibility of the local reporting agencies to understand controversial trade agreements, not the nation’s.)
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Postby New Waldensia » Fri Nov 29, 2019 1:14 pm

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Postby Refuge Isle » Fri Nov 29, 2019 1:29 pm

Kenmoria wrote:(OOC: In that case, you appear to be berating a clause for acting in concordance with the resolution’s stated purpose. The entire point of the legislation was to ban secret treaties, and a mandate that does so is to be completely expected.

I'm don't think I'm "berating" anything. I'm responding to some arguments against this repeal. The resolution has a stated purpose to ban secret treaties, thanks, I got that one. My repeal is about how it goes about that, how well it goes about that, its double-standard in its going about that, and whether the whole thing is even necessary.

To summarise its several arguments:
1) Secret treaties *can* be good, such as with nations who are diplomatically able, using their abilities to keep the peace. Such as with nations who look soon-to-be invaded looking to build their means of winning an inevitable war before the aggressor suspects they are building a defence.

2) The resolution's style to stop secret treaties that supposedly do so much harm for the world is to have everything go through the World Assembly or they're void. That, itself, is micro-management for no discernable value. Further, it's not even necessarily positive for reporting agencies at home if every treaty is a thousand pages and there are thousands of dummy treaties.

3) It's very difficult to justify the efficacy of this ban if it also includes a joke tag-along clause that probably no one really thinks belongs here.
Last edited by Refuge Isle on Fri Nov 29, 2019 1:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Kenmoria » Fri Nov 29, 2019 2:16 pm

Refuge Isle wrote:I'm don't think I'm "berating" anything. I'm responding to some arguments against this repeal.

(OOC: ‘Berating’ was the wrong word for me to use, I meant that you that you were criticising the clause, insofar as you put it into the repeal argument. From the rest of your arguments, I agree with part 3 entirely. Joke clauses are funny, but are generally better in the preamble or as inconsequential parts of the proposal. Point 2 I concur with in the micromanagement though it shouldn’t be too hard for the infallible WA gnomes to deal with spam in some way of another.)
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Postby Lord Visoraxus » Fri Nov 29, 2019 2:20 pm

Secret treaties are the best treaties. Banning them isn't a good idea.
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Postby Creslonia » Fri Nov 29, 2019 7:18 pm

"Creslonia supports this resolution. The ability to negotiate behind closed doors is valuable, although should be used only when necessary. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is glad to see this repeal."
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Postby Xeknos » Fri Nov 29, 2019 9:19 pm

The Federation of Xeknos generally prefers transparency whenever possible, though there are cases when this is less then ideal. We support this repeal.
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Postby Liberal Federal Republic Germany » Sat Nov 30, 2019 2:03 am

Bitely wrote:Gregory supports this on the simple fact that it's a repeal.

So mature. "Hey, let's "rebel" against the big elite bossing us around, trying to give us democratically voted standards!"

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Postby Latidonia » Sat Nov 30, 2019 4:58 am

Whereas Latidonia recognizes the inherent value and compelling nature of transparency and accountability in diplomacy and the general use of public power, there is an inarguable utility that secret treaties serve - one which is difficult, if not impossible to replace through other means. An outright and absolute ban on secret treaties, while laudable for its efforts for a more open society, may ultimately lead to a completely contrary outcomes. As secret treaties generally concern national security, as is noted in the resolution at vote, the security and integrity of these aforementioned open societies suffers as a result of the ban on such secret treaties.

The Latidonian delegation cites the historical General Assembly Resolution # 10 Nuclear Arms Possession Act. While certain elements of said resolution have been controversial, the Act also takes note of something essential. The first three clauses of the Act read as follows: "REALIZING that WA members are outnumbered by non members by about 3 to 1, ACKNOWLEDGING the fact that only WA members are required to comply with WA resolutions, NOTICING the fact that many non member nations are hostile towards WA members [...]" It is noteworthy that the first clause no longer rings true. Presently members of the World Assembly are outnumbered by non-members by approximately 8 to 1, which adds even greater weight to the concerns raised in the other two clauses. Disregarding members at the ideological penumbra of the World Assembly, members of this organisation are those that most often place the greatest value on the betterment of society, human rights and democratic principles. By weakening the national and internal security of all World Assembly members, our democratic societies are at risk of falling to those with no regard for our values - those mentioned in the cited clauses.

In regards to the discussion concerning private negotiations; should one with a limited understanding of the law of treaties familiarise themselves with the Ban on Secret Treaties, one could easily come to the conclusion that said resolution does not have a very wide scope. This is, however, based on an overly simplified, conservative and even partly fictionalised interpretation of what might constitute a treaty. Treaties are defined in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT) as "written agreements concluded between states and governed by international law, whatever the number of instruments involved and whatever their designation" (Art. 2.1) However, article 3 of the VCLT states the fact the Convention does not apply to international agreements in unwritten form, shall not affect: " the legal force of such agreements" So althought the VCLT itself does not apply to unwritten international agreements, it recognizes that such binding agreements exist. As such, simply the existence of private negotiations between subjects of international law could indeed constitute an illegal secret treaty. The original resolution fails to define which treaties it concerns, which leaves much room for arbitrary interpretation. The Ban on Secret Treaties could easily be interpreted as outlawing private negotiations. With the issue of definitions at hand, the Latidonian delegations also takes the liberty of expressing its confusion in regards to the original resolution's last, outrageously absurd clause, which in on itself should have blocked the resolution from ever being passed.

With all this considered, the Latidonian delegation votes to YES to REPEAL the General Assembly Resolution # 408 Ban On Secret Treaties, and strongly advocates that others do so as well.

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Postby PotatoFarmers » Sat Nov 30, 2019 7:03 am

Abridged Statement: https://www.nationstates.net/page=dispatch/id=1289021

We have decided we would be voting against the repeal. While the said resolution is something we have been protesting against and do not feel happy about, the repeal is flawed as some of the clauses are not reasons we agree with.

Latidonia wrote:In regards to the discussion concerning private negotiations; should one with a limited understanding of the law of treaties familiarise themselves with the Ban on Secret Treaties, one could easily come to the conclusion that said resolution does not have a very wide scope. This is, however, based on an overly simplified, conservative and even partly fictionalised interpretation of what might constitute a treaty. Treaties are defined in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT) as "written agreements concluded between states and governed by international law, whatever the number of instruments involved and whatever their designation" (Art. 2.1) However, article 3 of the VCLT states the fact the Convention does not apply to international agreements in unwritten form, shall not affect: " the legal force of such agreements" So althought the VCLT itself does not apply to unwritten international agreements, it recognizes that such binding agreements exist. As such, simply the existence of private negotiations between subjects of international law could indeed constitute an illegal secret treaty. The original resolution fails to define which treaties it concerns, which leaves much room for arbitrary interpretation. The Ban on Secret Treaties could easily be interpreted as outlawing private negotiations. With the issue of definitions at hand, the Latidonian delegations also takes the liberty of expressing its confusion in regards to the original resolution's last, outrageously absurd clause, which in on itself should have blocked the resolution from ever being passed.

While we understand where you are coming from, you do realise that such a broad definition is unlikely to make any sense. Besides, if the resolution requires members to publish all their agreements, effectively the secret negotiations would all amount to a written treaty, thereby fulfilling the requirements.

I personally don't agree with the interpretation that a ban on secret discussions falls under the resolution. As a result, I think the repeal made a possibly fatal mistake by suggesting so, as it could be considered honest mistake. Really, to give a future suggestion, the arguement could be made on how parts of the agreements should be kept secret on the basis of national security etc. Would support a future repeal, but in its current form, no.
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