Does Humanitarian Intervention Protect Human Rights?
Intervention concerning the dealings of another nation on the grounds of humanitarianism has been for long time a topic of discussion in the law of the international community. The intervention originates in the nineteenth century where three nations, namely Russia, Britain and France agreed to mediate via a naval assignation in a place called Navarino in the year 1927. The nations did this in a bid to secure the independence of Greece from the Ottoman Empire seizure. A widely held feeling of sympathy to Greeks grew in England (Stromseth 2003). The England’s sympathy towards Greeks was resulting from the Greek’s origin of classical heritage of the west. Many persons from Britain resolved to take arms to join the revolution of Greeks. A committee was quickly set to provide financial aid to the Greek rebels. The idea was that Greeks needed support to repel the Ottoman Empire that had oppressed them for many years. As a result of the mistreatment of the minorities by the Ottoman Empire, there arose liberal agitation in the nineteenth century. France headed the multinational force to Lebanon, for instance, in order to restore armistice. The mission was planned soon after the conflict of Druze Maronite in 1860. At that time, thousands of Christians had been murdered (Farer 2003).
The year 1876 saw the massacre of thousands of unarmed agitators for self-rule in Bulgaria that lead to what is called the Eastern Crisis. The British government did an investigation and learned that Turks had murdered twelve thousand Bulgarians and destroyed sixty villages. Although there were unexceptional demonstrations to show the strength of the public, it was impossible to overthrow the Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. He cared very little about the demonstration since all he wanted was power. In the twentieth century, tensions of great power rose and triggered every necessary step to see that humanitarianism was restored around the world where people were suffering from exploitation (Wheeler 2000). Talking about the League of Nations, it worked towards arbitrations and settlement of international disputes. Condemnation of aggressive actions such as the Japanese occupation of Manchuria was taking place. The end of world wars and the cold war saw increased interventions such as the Libya military intervention in 2011and the bombings of NATO in Yugoslavia. Humanitarian intervention ultimately intended to protect human rights; however, the factors behind the success of intervention are still heavily controversial to the international community. This paper will argue that humanitarian intervention aimed at protecting human rights is a two-edged sword (Stromseth 2003).
There is a common interest in protecting human rights; however, the enforcement of intervention is conditional due to several factors. The interest in protecting human rights is to ensure that nationals of a state enjoy human rights and are not subject to mass atrocities. Such mass atrocities as genocide, tribal or race cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity deprive nationals of their rights in their nation. Therefore, in cases when such atrocities are taking place, there is need for humanitarian intervention (Bellamy & Wheeler 2006). However, this interest can be under pursuit only after serious consideration. Humanitarian interventions should not take place leaving the state in question in a worse condition. Moreover, humanitarian interventions should only seek to protect human rights; hence, they should not undermine the same rights. The use of military force for humanitarian intervention should be last resort after all other methods have failed and the situation has worsened. Furthermore, the intervening states should not only seek to commence war against the state in question, they should also consider the interest of the common people of that country. On the contrary, intervening nations should join because they feel the regime is dictatorial or does not fit the interveners (Farer 2003).
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Since interventions to protect human rights are a double-edged sword, it strikes at the interning states and the state in question. The nationals of the state under war at times pay high costs of the intervention. The costs are not only economic but in all spheres of their lives. When a state is at war with humanitarian intervention, it suffers economic sanctions, advisories against it and other economic issues (Rutherford 2008). At the same time, when war seizes a country, the nationals suffer huge losses of lives. In the pursuit of human rights, the undermining of the same rights occurs for some time so as to achieve the desired results. Therefore, the nationals suffer losses of loved ones as well as property loss before humanitarians achieve their goal of protecting human rights (Clark 2001).
It goes without saying that humanitarian interventions at times are impaired with politics. Mostly, humanitarian interventions are needed as a result of misuse of political power. Moreover, intervening states may have political interest of their aid or intervention. Hence, it is impossible to consider humanitarian interventions excluding politics. Political interest destroys the pure interest of protecting human rights since politics only crave a gain of more political power without taking into consideration the means. On the other hand, ethical considerations ought to be at the fore in the list of the interning states (Wheeler 2000). Ethical reasoning dictates that humanitarians should only endeavor to take part in activities that will serve the interest of human beings in the war-torn state. According to ethical reasoning, human beings should not suffer more from humanitarian intervention; on the contrary, they should find solutions to the problems they have been going through. Therefore, there is conflicting reasoning between the political aspect of interventions and ethical aspect (Farer 2003). Naturally, the war-torn nation will seek to safeguard its political power and sovereignty, disregarding the ethical implications. On the other hand, intervening sates or organizations may decide to take into consideration the ethical implication of the intervention or not. Therefore, it becomes a matter of responsibility on the side of the intervening states to ensure that the public does not suffer. In order to be responsible, the intervening states should have no political or economic interests in the war-torn state (Clark 2001).
The intra-state crisis in Syria and North Korea demonstrate that it is possible to exercise responsibility to protect the nationals without inculcating state individual interests in the process. Russia and China have failed to conduct military intervention in these cases, providing alternative solutions by writing to the United Nations Security Council. After the irresponsible attack in Libya, it is apparent that the Security Council fails to improve its decision-making concerning military attack. Consequently, the way humanitarian interventions in Syria are conducted clearly shows that political interest influences the council’s decision-making (Stromseth 2003).
The United Nations (UN) was instituted in 1945. The institution aimed at providing security, peace, and justice. The UN accomplishes its tasks via humanitarian intervention. Apparently, the UN functions through three ways, namely military force, interference in the recipient country’s state of matters, and crisis response. The Security Council offers the UN the green light to apply military force. Since the P5 Nations were established, France, China, Britain, Russia and the United States became reluctant to authorize the UN intervention. The reason was in the fear of violation of a state’s sovereignty. The United Nations ought to work for the best interest of war-torn states (Bellamy & Wheeler 2006). Currently, the United Nations has been conducting humanitarian interventions in war-torn states. Although many times such intentions have been marred by irregularities and political influences, to some extent, the United Nations has succeed. The United Nations provides a platform upon which interventions can take place since individual country interventions may be very problematic. Since the United Nations is under the guidance of its council, its decision-making process is quite thorough and may at times be unbiased (Clark 2001).
There were several cases when the intervention became problematic; thus, there is the need to evaluate the operations of the United Nations. In addition, the organization’s interest to protect human rights should be pure and without any attachments. Thus, the interest to protect human rights should not have political influence or individual state gain (Wheeler 2000).
Responsibility to protect is the authority of another state to join and safe people in a war-torn state. Every state is sovereign, but its sovereignty ends with the endangerment of its nationals through mass atrocities. If a state is conducting mass atrocities against its nationals or it has been unable to protect its nationals from mass atrocities, then another state can come and put an end to the atrocities. Responsibility to protect has so far been abused by some states and declared war against a nation. According to the ideology of responsibility to protect, military force should be used after every other method has failed. On the contrary, some nations have employed military force without any justifiable reason. With the current trend, responsibility to protect is being misused, and it does not differ from humanitarian interventions. Under the responsibility to protect, military force should only be used after authorization of the Security Council (Farer 2003). Currently, the council may authorize the use of military force with hidden agenda. Responsibility to protect seeks to protect nationals of a war-torn state without coercive measures such as economic suctions, mediations, use of legal procedures. The use of military should only happen if none other measure has yielded. The results of this organization so far have been sympathetic. Most civilized nations have employed responsibility to protect as a means of achieving individual state interest in other countries (Rutherford 2008).
In conclusion, humanitarian interventions are important in protecting human rights, but the states should be cautious to avoid excesses. There are cases when humanitarian interventions are the only way to give human rights and justice to nationals of a country. However, at times, humanitarian interventions lead to misuse of power by intervening states. Therefore, the cases when intervention is needed should be limited. Thus, before resorting to military use in an attempt to restore order and peace as well as end mass atrocities in a nation, humanitarians ought to try other methods. There are cases when intervening states do so in order to secure their interest in those countries, without taking into consideration the interest of the nationals at heart. They use the excuse of responsibility to protect as a way to achieve their goals. Although protecting human rights is important, states should only do so with high sense of responsibility. Individual state interests such as settlement of quarrels between states and economic gains should not be under pursuit while protecting human rights. It is unjust to pursue personal interests at the expense of other states. Thus, what happened in Libya should never take place in any other country. The pursuit of personal interests under the cover of humanitarian intervention leaves the warring state in a worse condition than before the interventions. In addition, in such cases, interventions lead to economic hustle of the country and its nationals. The international Security Council should enforce laws which will limit the use of humanitarian intervention to declare war against weak states for personal state gain. Unauthorized humanitarian intervention should be restricted since it lacks accountability and responsibility. Humanitarian interventions should only take place after authorization of the Security Council to ensure that the warring state’s interest is also taken into consideration.