National interests and sovereignty play very important role in the international relations. The paper will present the arguments for and against that humanitarian intervention as “national interest”, it will examine if it violates the concept of the state sovereignty and which international organization theory supports which arguments. Those arguments will be presented based on the Rwanda case. The research questions for the paper are: should state forfeit sovereignty if they fail to stop engaging in human rights abuses; who has the right to intervene; are organizations that indorse intervention able to carry out the mission; and does exists an obligation to intervene.
2. Background on the Rwanda genocide
The killings in the Republic of Rwanda began in the summer of 1994. The massacre was carried out with machetes and resulted in killing every tenth person in the country. Around eight hundred thousand people were killed in a short period of time of a little more than three months (Gourevitch, Intr.). The building of Hutu and Tutsi identity has been done over the centuries. Understanding the building of identity with which the differences were made can help to understand the roots and background of the events that happened in the African country. The European colonizers Germans and Belgians have introduced differentiation based on ethnicity and race. They have introduced the identity card inside the colonial policy of social differentiation and segregation (Gourevitch, 54). There are two major groups that were involved in the mass atrocities. First the Tutsis has the power and later the Hutus where the latter were perpetrators of the genocide. The Hutu governmental strategies were carefully carried out with spreading propaganda over the radio and airways, lists with names and dresses of Tutsis on all state levels (Gourevitch, 95). Giving the historical background the reason for the atrocities in Rwanda result from colonial times where the differentiation among one nation was made based on the appearances indicators. Gourevitch in his work presents the background of the situation, with stories of the citizens and based on the current views of the genocide and the devastated consequences it left on the population.
3. Arguments for and against humanitarian intervention
Ryter (Krieg, 7) has defined humanitarian intervention as “the coercive actions by states involving the use of armed force in another state for the purpose of preventing or putting to halt gross and massive violations of human rights or international humanitarian law.” The concept and form has emerged in in the international relations in the early 1990s. The humanitarian intervention aims are to protect the inhumane treatment, saving foreign and domestic citizens in foreign countries and interfere in the affairs of a foreign state. It can have various forms from use of military force to political, diplomatic and economic actions. The humanitarian intervention can have or have not the United Nations Security Council authorization and can be done without the foreign governmental approval. It cannot be termed as peacekeeping operation since it is coercive, and it is intervention (Krieg, 7-9).
Arguments for and against humanitarian intervention will be further presented. There have been various reasons that justify the humanitarian interventions. Sole commitment to human rights does not always justify the interventions. The moral and right concepts are the ground on which humanitarian intervention should be carried out in timer when people are in need of help. The argument for interventions is also that the political institutions have value only if they carry out the respect and moral interests of the people. Institutions must carry out the people values in order to be legitimate. The regimes have right to rule in accordance with the population welfare. Arguments mentioned are established on the moral grounds and do not implement the obligation to intervene. The arguments that stand by the fact that the people and external agencies have a duty to ensure the protection of human rights are not only based on the moral grounds but create an obligation. Another important argument is also that the humanitarian intervention can have positive impacts and can result in successfully solving of humanitarian issues (Caney, 230-235).
Arguments against humanitarian intervention are skeptical toward the interventions based on various different grounds. The humanitarian interventions are presumed to be illegitimate since they do not respect the right of the people to self-government, the actions are ignorant and presumptuous, they are destroying the international stability and they have a low rate of success. In the first argument of illegitimacy it is presumed that it violates the nation’s autonomy and the foreign actors are ignorant of their domestic traditions and values and they are imposing their values on others. The intervention can result in international instability, and posing a threat to the international order, peace and security. Various past unsuccessful international interventions are reasons why many are opposed to humanitarian intervention and cast a doubt on the principle of interfering in foreign affairs. There have been various reasons identified why the humanitarian interventions do not work. The first reason is insufficient knowledge about other states, decisions and population that cannot bring the success with inadequate information. Second reasons are improper motives where states act with hidden aims and based on self-interests and motivation. Even with sufficient knowledge and motive the humanitarian intervention can result in resistance. Another reason lies in the fact that foreign actors cannot provide long-term security, since the people themselves must implement their political will they support. Since all opposing arguments have points, they cannot guarantee the intervention cannot become a success (Caney, 235- 255).
In the case of Rwanda there were evidence of genocide present and the international community based on the arguments for humanitarian intervention had a moral obligation and duty to interfere in the genocide carried out in the year 1994. In the eyes of the case the international organization are not legitimate since they did not implement the moral values and protect the human rights of the Rwanda citizens. The arguments against intervention in the case of Rwanda show that the government did not act in accordance to the citizens will and therefore the people right to self-govern arguments does not hold for this particular case. The genocide caused international insecurity and threatened peace and security and could be prevented with the humanitarian intervention. The knowledge among some Europeans countries about the country was sufficient since they were present here in the time of colonization and have been involved in state cooperation. With non-interference the world has been ignorant of the threats and security issues in this part of the world. The cost benefit analysis, whether to interfere or not would definitely be on the first stance since it could prevent the genocide and result in different outcomes.
4. The concept of the state sovereignty
The concept of the sovereignty and non-intervention has been contradicting the concept of protection of human rights in foreign states. The state sovereignty concept is central and one of the main concepts in the Charter of United Nations from 1945. The states are equal in international relations and are responsible for the domestic affairs and are protected from external intervention. It is one of the most important norms to uphold peace and stability. The state is the highest authority that is sovereign and has the authority and integrity. The humanitarian intervention as a coercive action violates the principle of sovereignty and autonomy (Krieg, 9-10). The United Nations charter in article 2(4) (Krieg, 10) states that: “all members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” Beside the charter also the Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of State is declaring that no state has a right to intervene and is regarded as illegal. The use of force is allowed only for self-defense (Krieg, 10-11). There are, however, cases under which the intervention can be allowed as a collective action with the United Nations authorization where peace, overt aggression or breaches of peace happen. The intervention under certain circumstance is allowed in cases of human rights abuse, genocide and mass murder. The most important to consider in the case of Rwanda is the Genocide Convention from 1948, under which all necessary means to prevent domestic human rights abuses can be used, but is legal binding for the ratified and signed members it does not address the issue of violating the concept of sovereignty. The issue is contradictory, despite the various conventions since the majority of states support the intervention in order to halt the humanitarian crisis where some do not and among those that believe the sovereignty principle prevails are also Russia and China (Krieg, 11-13).
After the Rwanda genocide in 1990 the unlimited sovereignty has seen some changes. The international community has a collective duty to enforce protection in failed states and in countries that are incapable of protecting its citizens. The states have right to sovereignty but with it also obligations to protect citizens from various crimes and if a country cannot implement its responsibilities the international community is obliged to protect them. Under such circumstances the compromise of sovereignty is allowed. Under the responsibility to protect in the year 2000 the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty was established (Krieg, 17-18).
Even though the concept of sovereignty is very important the human rights protection has an equal importance in the international law. It violates the basic principle, but still allows intervention under specific terms and conditions. The intervention in Rwanda could therefore be made, because reasonable evidence existed of the genocide, and vast violation of human rights. Humanitarian intervention should therefore be done even if violated the concept of the state sovereignty.
5. IR theory about the humanitarian intervention
The presented arguments against humanitarian intervention are similar to the realism paradigm of international relations and the arguments for, which are also represented in arguing the responsibility to protect are more in line of liberalism theory. The case of Rwanda is consistent with various international relations theories, but for the sake of the length of the paper, realism and liberalism will be discussed without critics of each theory presented.
International non-intervention in Rwanda can be explained with the realist international theory. The humanitarian intervention is not consistent with the realism. Based on the theory the reasons for intervention are guided by specific motivation and national interest. Major international powers did not show political will to act and to prevent atrocities, because of lack of national interest and motivation. The international society is perceived as a state of anarchy, which means that every state acts in accordance of its own interest. The order is above the justice and sovereignty and territorial integrity. The theory is against international humanitarian intervention. The states are perceived as the highest authority and also violations of human rights are not perceived as just cause to intervene (Spalding, 6). The realism can explain why the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda – UNAMIR had only by-standing role and why the nations participating in the mission were retreating in the light of possible danger. There were warnings and intelligence reports of the possible massacre, but international community did not intervene. The states decide based on the realism and act when the national self-interest exists and the principles are implemented selectively.
There are international relations theories that are consistent with the humanitarian intervention. The theories that support the humanitarian intervention prioritize justice prior the order (Spalding, 6). The Liberalism paradigm can be applied to cooperation in the international community where there is possibility to intervene via the United Nations Security Council and protect human rights also with breaking the principle of the state sovereignty. The moral authority and universal human rights should be protected all around the globe, from which the support for the humanitarian intervention can be derived (Spalding, 7). The humanitarian intervention is a right, but in the case of Rwanda it has shown that is not a duty and obligation, since the international organizations, nations and community did not manage to secure the universal human rights since it did not intervened which resulted in mass killings and genocide. Besides the theories that believe there is a right to intervene there are also theories that believe there is a duty to intervene. Kant (Spalding, 8) has pointed out the obligation and duty of the humanitarian intervention. Based on the Spalding (8) it is more reasonable to assume that the humanitarian intervention is a right rather than a moral duty. For the theories that support humanitarian intervention the justice plays a more important role than in theories that argue against the intervention.
6. Responsibility to protect
First and foremost the national states are responsible to protect its citizens. States are sovereign and with the sovereignty there is also an obligation to protect the population. When states are unable to carry out the obligation to protect the basic human rights and in cases of genocide that happened in Rwanda the sovereignty can be temporary suspend with the involvement of the international community in order to provide security and protection. In certain circumstances the humanitarian intervention is morally obligatory. The problem of the humanitarian intervention lies in the vague concepts of international community where all have a moral obligation to help, but no specific actors are in charge. If there is no action no one can be blamed since there is no one particular in charged.
United Nations (n. p.) has in their concept of the Responsibility to Protect stated that sovereignty is not the obstacle for foreign interference. The duty to prevent genocide and atrocities is in the hand of the state, but the international community has a role to protect as well in cases where the welfare of foreign citizens is being threatened. Based on the United Nations World Summit in 2005 they have come to three pillars of the concept. First, the states are responsible for protecting the populations from genocide. Second, the international community has a responsibility to encourage to fulfil the state’s responsibility and to use necessary means frim diplomatic, humanitarian or other in order to protect the populations. Based on the past cases the early warnings and assessments in order to carry out balanced responses in cases of possible genocide, ethnic cleansings or war crimes (United Nations, n. p.).
The Rwanda state did not manage to protect the population and was part of the atrocities committed over one ethnic group over another and that is why the state has the core responsibility. The international community is also morally responsible for Rwanda atrocities and genocide, since it did not intervene where it was obvious the state will not willingly do so. All states, countries and others that had the knowledge, trust, capacity and resources have the right to protect population. On the other side others that do not possess such capabilities also have an obligation to protect. The humanitarian intervention is therefore carried out via United Nations Security Council, which must give an authorization, but without the willingness of states to cooperate and intervene with the sole United Nations cannot protect populations around the world. The sole organization needs support from various actors in order to successfully carry out the humanitarian intervention. It is not just a question of resources that are needed to implement interventions, but also international support, support of neighboring countries, intra state support that must be present. Various factors are important in carrying out the mission under the United Nations endorsement.
The capacity to carry out the intervention is connected with the political will. The shortage of the capacity in numbers of military or civilian personnel is the result of the political will to take or not to take action. Political leadership must believe in the capacity, positive result of intervention, possible success and effect. The political will of states is shaped based on the recent experiences and also by the material conditions. The support of acting and including in the humanitarian intervention is driven by the security and political interest and not on ethical and moral principles as the responsibility to protect assumes. The capacity to take out the intervention is correlated also with the legitimacy. The lack of it can represent the unsuccessful intervention, since there is no trust and legal basis for the authority (Egerton and Knight, 120-121). The capacity to prevent mass atrocities must incorporate different actors at international, regional and local level and work on the information sharing and coordination (Egerton and Knight, 134). Those are the reasons, why it is the best way to carry out the humanitarian intervention via United Nations that have the legitimacy to act and are is working in accordance with the global standards, values and norms, where the single national interests are diminished. The capacity to implement and carry out intervention can have various consequences at the beginning and in the ending of the issue. Since the decline of support for humanitarian intervention can be a consequence of no political will to get involved the mechanism to prevent genocide and atrocities must be international accepted and widely supported in order to give positive results that will contribute to the trust in the system of providing peace and security in foreign countries in order to protect the population, where initial state has not been able to.
The humanitarian intervention is in the national interest, which can be seen from the arguments for and against intervention and from the international laws examined in the concepts of state sovereignty. In cases like Rwanda it should be carried out regardless of violating the concept of state sovereignty. It is an international moral obligation and in the future possibly duty to prevent such atrocities in the future. The use of force to protect the population in humanitarian intervention is prohibited unless the Security Council gives authorization. The norm of responsibility to protect is emerging in international relations. There is however no obligation to implement the humanitarian intervention by the Security Council, which was also seen from case of Rwanda where there was no action carried out to protect the citizens. The international organizations and actors failed to implement their value and global values of protecting human rights, peace and security and to prevent genocide. Based on the United Nations and international law with the sovereignty come also duties to protect citizens which Rwanda failed, which means that the international community should help to achieve does goals with temporary compromising the country’s sovereignty. The fact that it is only desirable that the humanitarian interventions are carried out with the United Nations authorization it is not obligatory concept that would put one subject obliged to intervene. The vague concepts of no clear definition of international responsibility and no mechanism that would get actors obligatory involvement in cases of violations of human rights, peace and security is resulting from the insufficient international actions to prevent such incidents. There is an obligation not solely right to intervene, but with vague concepts the obligation is not exercised fully. The state sovereignty can be temporary stopped in order to prevent human rights violations and genocide. The right to intervene has the whole international community. The humanitarian interventions are therefore with not intervening in certain cases such as the Rwanda case seen as illegitimate also in other intervention, since the interventions are done selectively and not based on the objective facts. With future cases like Rwanda the legitimacy of the international community and organization will be eroded and diminished.
8. Work cited
Caney, Simon. Justice Beyond Borders: a Global Political Theory. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005. Print.
Egerton, Frazer, Knight, W. Andy. The Routledge Handbook of the Responsibility to Protect. New York: Routledge. 2012. Print.
Gourevitch, Philip. We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families. New York: Picador. 1998. Print.
Krieg, Andreas. Motivations for Humanitarian Intervention: Theoretical and Empirical Considerations. New York: Springer. 2013. Print.
Spalding, James Liam. “A Critical Investigation of the IR Theories That Underpin the Debate on Humanitarian Intervention”. International Policy Review Vol7 (2013). Web.
United Nations. The Responsibility to Protect. N. d. Web. http://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/adviser/responsibility
Essay On National Interest And Sovereignty On Case Of Rwanda
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: Humanitarian, Sovereignty, Politics, Ethics, United Nations, Racism, Genocide, Turkey
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