Why Maine shouldn’t be scared of the U.N.’s Agenda 21

Last week marked a milestone at the United Nations. The Commission on Sustainable Development, a body born out of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and focused on implementing Agenda 21, held its last meeting.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, with Desmond Parker (l., former UN Chief of Protocol) and Dilma Rousseff (r., President of Brazil), at the Rio+20 conference. Photo: UN Photo/Mark Garten

Many in Augusta have longed to see this day. Earlier this year, a handful of lawmakers, including many from Aroostook County, sponsored LD 220, a bill that would have banned any state governing body from working with any organization that supports the 1992 Earth Summit agreement. That’s the agreement that lays out a series of global goals to promote sustainable economic development — through sustainable forest management, climate change prevention, conservation of the planet’s natural resources.

In his testimony introducing LD 220, Rep. Ricky Long, R-Sherman, stated the outcome of the Earth Summit stands to “threaten the sovereignty of our government, as well as our established policies and civil liberties by binding us to a contract of global governance.”

Long picks up on the quintessential opposition from overzealous adherents of Ayn Rand to the United Nations, arguing that independence is the cornerstone of our nation. However, what is notable about bills like LD 220 and their supporters is that they act in contradiction to the very cornerstone of independent thought that Rand harps. LD 220’s text was taken almost word for word from bills considered by other state legislatures. Curiously, fear from global governance at the United Nations has become a means to blindly unite populations across the country.

Unfortunately for Howard Roark — the individualist protagonist in Rand’s first novel “The Fountainhead” — and company, the Commission on Sustainable Development has not died. It has evolved into the High Level Political Forum, which meets Tuesday. As a new age dawns for sustainable development, it is crucial that some of the misinformation about United Nations programs be corrected.

Contrary to popular belief, the United Nations is not bent on creating a global system of government. In fact, if the United Nations were to plan such a global takeover, it wouldn’t even know how to start the process because of its bureaucratic and committee-driven nature.

Global gatherings like the Rio Earth Summit and High Level Political Forum do not mandate or restrict liberties. Rather, they are forums where local governments can discuss best practices. The agreements have no legal jurisdiction in the United States.

In fact, the Earth Summit and High Level Political Forum specifically recognize the importance of local governments. This process is not zero sum, where Augusta must compete with other organizations, but positive sum, where Augusta can contribute to national and international practices to create something bigger than itself. For example, the United Nations has become an expert in tracking local conditions around the globe — information that Augusta could take advantage of at minimal cost and to great benefit.

The High Level Political Forum, which meets Tuesday, will start the process of creating new goals for eradicating poverty and promoting sustainable development. It is essential that Augusta and Washington provide input in the process, as it promotes stability in developing nations, which can help to create markets where we can export our products.

But as long as politicians sit in the corner and evoke fears of global governance, we will all fail. Opposition to the United Nations is not based on principle. Rather, it comes from politicians who fail to gain support using conventional methods. Long and other politicians who fail to engage with the global community may score cheap political points, but they endanger our domestic security and harm our economy in the long run.

As much as neo-isolationists may quote Ayn Rand, they forget that at the end of “The Fountainhead,” even Howard Roark recognizes that needlessly shunning others based on principle is pointless.

Through U.N. bodies like the High Level Political Forum, we have an opportunity to promote the security and economic interests not only for our generation, but for the next generation as well.

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Justin Lynch

About Justin Lynch

Justin Lynch is the former president of the University of Maine International Affairs Association. A former BDN employee, he now lives in Washington, D.C.