Thursday, September 23, 2004

Universality of Human Rights

There is a splendid letter in today's Grauniad arguing the moral case for the war in Iraq over the legalist case of the UN.

I hate to disillusion Mark Seddon (Letters, September 18) but it is unclear that, even with a second resolution, the invasion of Iraq would have been legal. The fact that so many on the left are keen to embrace the UN system and international law is strange, given that the central value of both is not human rights but state sovereignty.

. . .To aid the victims of tyranny is illegal; to defend yourself from the threat of WMD is not.

Too many on the left treat the UN and the system of international law as if it was what they wished, rather than as what it is. The focus on state sovereignty means that it protects tyrants, not their victims. . . . So the war in Iraq may well have been illegal, but that does not make it immoral. Unjust laws are there for the breaking. The principle of state sovereignty is the most unjust law of all.
Adam E Rule

Given the 20th century's experience of internal state repression and genocide is it not time to junk the concept of State sovereignty as out-moded, dangerous and going against a belief in the universality of human rights?

This Pugwash report argues cases of human rights violations, sovereignty is never a defence; in cases of gross violations of human rights, it has no role to play; it does not impede the Security Council from concluding that such violations create a threat to the peace and to draw the appropriate consequences in accordance with Chapter VII of the Charter; and it cannot even protect Heads of States from international prosecution.
While the UN is focused on issues of State Sovereignty it is failing victims of gross Human Rights abuses.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fascinating that people who theoretically should be internationalists seem so preoccupied with State Sovereignty. I know some Bosnians, they have a very low opinion of the UN and "International Law".

Universal human rights? They are being busily "relativised" out of existence.