Bilateral treaties

Some maths inspired by an letter published in The Times on 2 November 2004.

The letter, from Conservative MPs Bill Cash, Angela Browning, Edward Leigh and Richard Shepherd, opposed the European constitution, claiming that:

“Cross-border issues such as global warming and international terrorism can be dealt with by bilateral treaties. There is no need for an overriding legal structure and political union under a European constitution, which must be rejected in a referendum.”

But do some counting.

There are at present 191 member states of the United Nations. It would require 18,240 bilateral treaties to involve them all in the fight against global warming. And a further 18,240 bilateral treaties to fight international terrorism. World trade would require a further 18,240 bilateral treaties, and so on. Now think of the procedure needed to amend those treaties.

The advantages of a multilateral approach are obvious.

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