Of Dogmas and Demagogues

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The death of half a million people in the Rwandan genocide of 1994, the loss of over 1700 members among the Libyan armed forces and a poison gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians in a Syrian suburb, were all dreadful failures on the part of the international community to respond to a humanitarian crisis of proportions rarely seen.
The whole world is on the threshold of a dazzling breakdown, in the name of humanitarian intervention.

Following the Rwandan tragedy, international communities were involved in unceasing debates on how to react effectively when citizens’ human rights are grossly violated. The question at the heart of the matter was whether States have unconditional sovereignty over their affairs or whether the international community has the right to intervene in a country for humanitarian purposes. The British government came up with a riveting observation on the same. In its failed bid to convince the Parliament to support air-strikes against Syria, the British government issued a statement on Thursday, August  29, outlining its legal justification for military action. It claimed that its position is consistent with an emerging international norm of “humanitarian intervention.” Indeed such a norm, while not yet codified in international law, has begun to take shape in recent decades, evidenced in both international documents and the practice and rhetoric of governments. Britain’s legal position, however, inadequately reflects these international understandings about the “responsibility to protect.” If the British position had been authorized by Parliament, it would have risked dangerously undercutting this emerging and still fragile norm, while simultaneously threatening the U.N. Charter regime.
It is thus noteworthy that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry chose not to mention “humanitarian intervention” in his
remarks on Friday,focusing instead on the need to enforce a taboo against chemical weapons. This makes sense, since the military campaign being proposed would not meet the standards by which humanitarian interventions are judged.

Finally, we leave the Western Member States with some food for thought on their brimming platter. Finally, statesmen must ask themselves whether there is not an underlying bias in international peace and security initiatives. If a half a million people were threatened with murder and suffering in Europe or the Americas, would so many governments have been so hesitant in responding in an effective and timely manner?

About The Author

Samreen Chabra

Samreen Chabra (MCM College 36)

18 years old. Writer. Theatre Artist. As a writer I don’t restrict myself at all and experiment with genres as much as I can. Writing for me has always been about introducing a new line of thought, or just something to ponder upon. More precious than the content, is the feeling that comes along with it. And I hope to give my readers the same heartening experience.

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