Human Rights and Intervention

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Human Rights and Intervention

By | October 2012
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Since the end of the Second World War, the attention of international society has been turning towards the protection of individuals. The idea that massacres of civilians, such as those perpetrated by Hitler, should be banned from international society was embraced by many countries at the end of the war. And this spirit pervaded the UN Charter. However, only after the end of the Cold War, a moment when the concerns about sovereignty were mitigated, the United Nations adopted a more active stance concerning the protection of human rights, carrying on military interventions when it was extremely necessary. Nevertheless, the use of military forces to promote human rights must take into account concepts as urgency, proportion and dialogue, in order to be justified. To begin with urgency, it is necessary to state that serious threats to human rights must be immediately tackled by international society, because acting fast can spare thousands of lives. History illustrates that sometimes military actions are more proficuous than talks. For instance, in one hand, the fast response of the Security Council to the crises in Libya was responsible for avoiding a lasting civil war, in which numberless people coud have died. On the other hand, the dismissiviness of international society in relation to the crisis in Rwanda had as a consequence more than 800 thousands casualties. Therefore, Rwanda and Libya proves that urgence justifies military intervention. In spite of the urgency, proportion must be considered too. The mandates of the Security Council cannot wind up in “decapitations” of governments whenever a military action is needed to restore human rights. The indiscriminate use of force not only is illegitimate but also can feed the turmoil. For example, when the United States overturned Saddam Hussein, the situation in Iraq evolved to a large-scale civil war and thousands of civilians were killed. For this reason, proportion is essential to establish a long-lasting...

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