What if the world adopted a ‘mind your own business’ policy?

“Don’t interfere in our national affairs” is the customary reaction of most nations to any negative remark by other countries, or to unflattering reports by independent Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). All rulers claim to understand the welfare of their countries and citizens best, and are never happy if the international community voices even the tiniest criticism of their conduct.

The fact that almost all nations dismiss international criticism prompts us to consider the likely effects of a universal application of a “mind your own business” policy. Each country would only worry about its own affairs, expressing no concern about, or criticism of, other nations, and the media in every country would only be entitled to discuss national issues.

Adopting such a policy would necessitate the dismantling of international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), such as the UN and human rights groups, as their missions would no longer have any justifiable foundation. Would these new measures make the world a better place, or lead to the decline of humanity?

Many citizens worldwide say states’ “concerns” about other nations (the term used by those adopting a more congenial attitude), or “international interference” (according to the perception of most nations) is not always authentic. Nations often make observations to this effect, using them to exert political pressure on their opponents. Similarly, CSOs are accused of operating unfairly, making biased statements and issuing deceptive country-status reports.

Authoritarianism

“Closing the borders” between nations will disassociate countries from universal values and over-empower rulers at the expense of the common citizen, regardless of whether a country is democratic or authoritarian. Rulers would love to be able to exercise exclusive control over their nations without having to listen to a single critical remark, however small.

However, I cannot think of a single case where an autocratic government became democratic due to international pressure. On the contrary, countries that receive international criticism tend to become more defensive and autocratic. Authoritarian leaders by definition apply repressive policies on their citizens. These leaders justify their misconduct by claiming that repressive measures are meant to better serve the interests of their countries and citizens.

Sadly, Western democratic leaders capitalize on these dictatorial policies to serve their own national interests. They are quick to pressure autocratic leaders when a conflict occurs between their respective countries, but when they are on good terms they ignore the improper conduct of these leaders.

Privilege

Nations need to revisit the mechanism that enables a handful of countries to pressure the rest of the world, even when it serves a righteous cause. Citizens worldwide should not leave what we commonly define as “universal values” to a few nations, which then use them as pressure tools.

We should either all work together to abide by universal values that measure the performance of each country fairly, or apply a “mind your own business” policy that will further complicate international relations.

We should revise CSO bylaws to make the work of these organizations more authentic, and to preclude its use for political purposes. Most CSOs are doing an excellent job in this regard, with the notable exception of the UN Security Council, whose structure and rules of procedure privilege a number of nations at the expense of the majority.

We must attempt to make the implementation of CSO reports obligatory for all nations, not just for selected countries. Applying these steps would create true momentum toward just and well-structured international relations.

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