Not many organizations have yet emerged to stake their claim to global political legitimacy; probably the United Nations is the only one which has voiced clear intentions in that direction, but its attempts to develop global responsibilities in the key political areas of fiscal and military power have been brushed aside by its member nation states.
We have seen, on the other hand, that in cultural terms the UN has a powerful profile through agencies such as the World Health Organization and UNICEF. Its affiliates include the International Olympic Committee. All these organizations were described in Chapter Two.
The United Nations has considerable involvement in the development of international and harmonized laws, although it has relatively little to do with the judicial process itself other than through The International Court of Justice (see Chapter Two) and the International Criminal Court (see Chapter Four).
United Nations bodies involved in framing or harmonizing laws include the International Law Commission and the Commission on International Trade Law (UNICTRAL), both described in Chapter Four.
This chapter has put forward the case that the momentum of globalization will leave nation states high and dry in an ocean of international regulation, and that over the next 50 years even key national responsibilities such as defence and taxation will be subsumed by global or international bodies. Of course nation states will continue to exist, and will continue to deal with local issues, will continue to raise and spend money, and (no doubt) will continue to legislate for all they are worth. They will continue to have politics, as well; but by 2050 the politics of a nation state will have a relationship to world politics rather similar to that between national and state politics in the USA.
The removal of language as a barrier to human understanding, something that will begin to happen in the 2020s, will further weaken the boundaries that divide nation states. A later chapter (number 8) on The Future of the State will speculate on the likely direction of world governance during the remainder of the 21st century as a result of this and other tendencies that have been sketched out in the first part of this book, and will also take account of the massive enhancement of human cognition and inter-personal communication that will result from technological developments in the first half of the new century – to be described in Part Two of the book.