In my world, there is a top-secret counter-intelligence/peacekeeping organisation called SWORD that answers directly to the UN Security Council. SWORD was formed in the wake of War World II in order to secretly resolve conflicts that could cause War World III and doesn't involve itself in ongoing conflicts such as the Syrian Civil War or Yemeni Crisis. SWORD is funded by both permanent and temporary members with the contribution of each member country determined based by a yearly assessment. The assessment takes into account the GNP, per capita income & external debt of countries for fixing the quantum of contribution.

SWORD has its own private air force, standing army, navy and access to vast stockpiles of cutting-edge military hardware supplied by nations apart of the UN Security Council. SWORD also has a global system of secret and sensitive military bases situated in various geopolitical regions, not unlike those of the US military. Furthermore, they have full authority over the military of whatever country they're operating in and the power to hermetically seal off entire cities from the outside world by invoking martial law.

What are the ramifications of such an organisation existing and how would it affect relations between countries serving on the UN Security Council?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Accepting an answer just half an hour after posting your question is quite a hurry. We advice waiting 24 hours at least, to improve the chances of getting good answers. Solved questions attract less attention. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Aug 24, 2018 at 5:01
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    $\begingroup$ It can't be a secret organization if it can order local military forces around. Sure, that badge says "SWORD Special Agent" but I never heard of any SWORD. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Aug 24, 2018 at 6:05
  • $\begingroup$ The President of the United States did not manage to keep secret a "conspiracy" that only two people knew of, of which he was one. How do you expect to keep this a secret? $\endgroup$
    – MichaelK
    Aug 24, 2018 at 7:02
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    $\begingroup$ Classic misuse of the term "peace-keeping". Peacekeeping only occurs after all sides in a conflict have a peace agreement in place. Peacekeepers are neutral observers and trust-builders, not occupiers nor enforcers. Peacekeepers don't need vast, secret forces. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Aug 24, 2018 at 14:14

3 Answers 3


It would be a World Government

Some people have strong feelings about the UN becoming (or not becoming) a world government, but for the purpose of a novel or game setting it is clearly a valid starting point. Assume that WWII was a bit more gruesome than historically, assume that the USSR was even more seriously weakened, and it could be basically "the Western Allies take over the world."

This World Government would mostly keep out of the internal affairs of nations, in a hands-off, federalist system.

  • They intervene if there is a threat to world peace, and they decide when that is the case. Dictator A builds WMD. Intervention. Dictator B suppresses the democratic opposition. No intervention. Dictator C causes a mass refugee movement. Toss the dice, how interventionist does the UNSC feel this week?
  • They would be quite hesitant to intervene in major industrialized countries unless those are clearly a threat to world peace, and possibly not even then, because such an intervention would take the budget of the next dozen years.
  • They would dislike intervening in failed states, because their goal is not to minimize invididual human suffering. They look at threats to Mankind with a capital letter.

This only works if the UNSC members have no fundamental disagreements about what they are doing. They can still fight viciously among themselves to make sure that they "get their money back" out of their contributions, and that their priorities are handled. Above I wrote "toss the dice" on some intervention, but the dice are weighted if the crisis bothers a major UNSC member.

Perhaps you should think of the EU as a precedent.

  • There are serious fights about budget priorities and related issues, but in the end 27 out of 28 agree that staying in the Union is a better idea than going it alone.
  • When decisions require a majority or supermajority, some nations might threaten to block unrelated votes unless their priorities are handled first.
  • When it is election season in a major nation, the whole process can be on hold.

In all likelihood, none of these nations would allow such an organization. There are 15 nations in the Security Council: 10 that rotate, and 5 permanent. The permanent members, who also have individual veto powers, are the US, the UK, France, Russia, and China. Needless to say, there are some trust issues in play here.

Right now, contributions to UN peacekeeping forces are optional, and member states can withdraw them if they want. They're compensated for the use of their troops and materiel if indeed they are asked to take part in peacekeeping. In your arrangement, resources - whether funding or, more likely, direct contributions of troops and equipment - are mandatory and permanent.

From the perspective of the member nations, there are a number of reasons not to like this proposal. One is that the nations lose control of their own forces when they "donate" them. If you're a non-permanent member of the Council, you could conceivably be outvoted and have your troops be sent on a mission that's contrary to your interests or morally repugnant to your people. If you're a permanent member, you can just veto those actions, but by the same token another permanent member can prevent you from deploying them somewhere you really want to.

A second issue is the cost. Peacekeeping forces under the current scheme are only paid while acting as peacekeepers, which is a bargain for the UN - it means that they don't have to pay for maintaining troops at or near combat-ready status when they don't in fact need them. Under your system, those troops need to be paid by the UN all the time, increasing the amount each member organization is expected to contribute.

The third issue is perhaps most important, but least quantifiable, and that's national pride. No nation likes to see somebody else ordering around "their" troops and spending "their" money. If it's a voluntary contribution, that's one thing: they made a choice to commit to an action that they think is justified. But removing that choice, or asking them to commit far in advance, is a blow to national pride. Let alone demanding that the security force have jurisdiction over nations' internal affairs, such as the imposition of martial law.

A fourth problem, not related to the proclivities of any one member nation, is secrecy. You're talking about a standing army of hundreds of thousands if not millions of people, with equipment, bases, and support staff. Allocations of funds. Censuses. Outsiders coming into sovereign nations and expecting to be able to throw around orders. There is no way any of this will qualify as "secret" in the slightest - the scale is just too extreme, and you're asking too much of too many people.

  • $\begingroup$ man... you covered the same points as I did, but you posted way before I could :( $\endgroup$
    – Shadowzee
    Aug 24, 2018 at 3:20

It won't work very well, just like how the UN isn't actually capable of doing much other than maybe writing very angry letters.

The first problem is funding. If a country contributes more to SWORD they expect to have greater control. Otherwise, why would I invest money into solving the problems of other countries, when I can solve the problems of my own country? Why should I invest a greater amount of resources for less control of those resources? Small countries who are in SWORD hence won't have as much of a say in what happens. If everyone had equal control, then if you upset a larger country, they could decide to stop contributing which will significantly weaken SWORD because they contribute more. If power is equal to contribution, a small contributor will likely be ignored in favor of a big contributor.

Your next problem is going to be how to stop World War III. A world war isn't going to be caused by shadow organisations doing dodge james bond or mission impossible stunts. World wars are funded by countries and super powers. The same countries and super powers which are funding SWORD. Look at the current state of the UN. If a country wants to push an agenda, lets say, remove all nuclear bombs from America, they are going to be pushed back by America due to the funding problem above. If you get the support of other powers, like Russia or China, and force the resolution onto America, America will likely just leave and prepare all their nukes for a MAD scenario and just be like..."I dare you try and stop us". Likewise, similar situations are going to happen with scenarios that are in the interests or favor of a super power. For example, Russia annexing Crimea. SWORD won't stop it, because Russia and its allies are going to veto anything you do because you are acting against their interests. You could send in SWORD, but then you have World War III. Russia (and its allies) vs SWORD (the rest of the world).

Then there is the problem with a country giving military control to SWORD. No country would allow SWORD to control their military. The military will put their nation above the interests of a global organisation because their country is where they live, where their families live, the person who pays them and so on and so forth. Military personal will hold sensitive information important to their country and will be very resistant to sharing any of these details. Like literally imagine the NSA willingly telling everyone that they are spying on you. Its just not going to be happen. Likewise, sensitive information like Nuke locations, missions and covert operations just won't be shared, because the interests of a country for a country is more important that the interests of the world or your super powers. Like... as if North Korea is going to dismantle its nukes just because its part of SWORD.

That leads into secret military bases. Its hard to keep a military base secret. Think of Area 51. If you keep people out, people will know about it. If you kill them all, people go missing and their relatives will know about it. At best you can stop them from finding out whats inside, but they will know its location (especially with satellite images). Also a country isn't going to just allow a military base in their borders if its not an ally, providing them with resources they need or supporting them in the first place. Look at the China America situation in South Korea. There is no way China would allow a base which America contributes to and has sway over in their borders, because it will threaten their national security. It doesn't matter why you want the base, it is a potential threat to them and they will do everything they can to stop it (If I recall, they told their citizens to not go to South Korea, and South Koreas tourism industry took a huge hit).

Finally, You can't have a secret and global military force that is well stock piled and has access to top of the line technology. It might of worked at the start of the information age, but its not going to work any more. The global research community for example will know about the top ongoing projects. Number 1 scientists in their field don't just disappear for no reason. Satellite images are going to reveal base locations and the shear number of resources and services the military require means that at least 1 person in the entire world who supports this will blab about it, and thats all you need.

So if SWORD did exist, it wouldn't do much at all because everything it does is going to act against the interests of the super powers who control it. It would basically be a shared army of countries who have similar goals like NATO.


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