Life has rules. They are everywhere and cover pretty much everything. Some rules are loosely defined and others immanent (Natural law), the nuances of Hobbs and Locke aside. International Treaties fall closer to the Natural Law side of the sliding scale, if not solidly upon it.
International Treaties generally fall into two categories, those that agree to perform a specific action and those that agree to refrain from a specific action. Countries can adopt a mutual defense treaty with others [action] and countries can adopt a treaty banning above ground testing of nuclear bombs [refrain from action]. The Kyoto Treaty [alternately known as The Kyoto Protocol] is an example of a treaty that parties agree to both action and inaction with its ratification.
Historically it has been the treaties of restraint that carried the greatest probability of international penalties or sanctions. These certainly have not been evenly and consistently enforced, and often countries gamble as to what the international community's reaction will or will not likely be. A few examples of reaction testing can be found in the nuclear development programs of some countries, and not one suffered (Iraq was a broader issue).
In fact, it has been demonstrated several times in our recent past that flaunting a treaty produces positive outcomes for countries as the international community resorts to what amounts to bribing a country to cease offending actions. There are few enforcement options and pretty much zero will to enact those few. Either countries live up to their treaties or they don't and the rest of the world pretty much has to accept it.
This week Indonesia caused yet another stir with Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari's interview statement that her country will no longer announce H5N1 deaths as they occur, but rather on some yet to be officially determined schedule, from a month to upwards of six—or so. Here is a representative story of the many that covered the incident, but since I am late to the table I suspect I don't need to post on yet again.
Supari's gamble may pay off, literally as well as figuratively, and hey, more power to her. I hope she is successful in whatever it is that is driving her actions. The world moves on, and it's time that it move on without Indonesia. But I can't help wonder what Hobbs and Locke would think of these developments.
At one time a person's word was nothing short of a sacred bond, broken only by the lowest of scoundrels and a country's word was pretty much a bankable asset. Yes, the world moves on, and not always in the right direction.