The Efficacy of the Local Government in Upholding the Principles of Human Rights

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 92
  • Published : October 7, 2010
Open Document
Text Preview
To protect human rights is to ensure that people receive some degree of decent, humane treatment. Because political systems that protect human rights are thought to reduce the threat of world conflict, all nations have a stake in promoting worldwide respect for human rights.[8] International human rights law, humanitarian intervention law and refugee law all protect the right to life and physical integrity and attempt to limit the unrestrained power of the state. These laws aim to preserve humanity and protect against anything that challenges people's health, economic well-being, social stability and political peace. Underlying such laws is the principle of nondiscrimination, the notion that rights apply universally. Responsibility to protect human rights resides first and foremost with the states themselves. However, in many cases public authorities and government officials institute policies that violate basic human rights. Such abuses of power by political leaders and state authorities have devastating effects, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. What can be done to safeguard human rights when those in power are responsible for human rights violations? Can outside forces intervene in order to protect human rights? In some cases, the perceived need to protect human rights and maintain peace has led to humanitarian intervention. There is evidence that internationally we are moving towards the notion that governments have not only a negative duty to respect human rights, but also a positive duty to safeguard these rights, preserve life and protect people from having their rights violated by others. Many believe that states' duties to intervene should not be determined by proximity, but rather by the severity of the crisis. There are two kinds of humanitarian intervention involving the military: unilateral interventions by a single state, and collective interventions by a group of states. Because relatively few states have sufficient force and capacity to intervene on their own, most modern interventions are collective. Some also argue that there is a normative consensus that multilateral intervention is the only acceptable form at present. There is much disagreement about when and to what extent outside countries can engage in such interventions. More specifically, there is debate about the efficacy of using military force to protect the human rights of individuals in other nations. This sort of debate stems largely from a tension between state sovereignty and the rights of individuals. Some defend the principles of state sovereignty and nonintervention, and argue that other states must be permitted to determine their own course. They point out that the principles of state sovereignty and the non-use of force are enshrined in the charter of the United Nations, which is regarded as an authoritative source on international legal order. This argument suggests that different states have different conceptions of justice, and international coexistence depends on a pluralist ethic whereby each state can uphold its own conception of the good. Among this group, there is "a profound skepticism about the possibilities of realizing notions of universal justice." States that presume to judge what counts as a violation of human rights in another nation interfere with that nation's right to self-determination. Suspicions are further raised by the inconsistent respect for sovereignty (or human rights for that matter); namely, the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council have tremendous say over application of international principles. In addition, requiring some country to respect human rights is liable to cause friction and can lead to far-reaching disagreements. Thus, acts of intervention may disrupt interstate order and lead to further conflict. Even greater human suffering might thereby result if states set aside the norm of nonintervention. Others point out that humanitarian intervention does not, in...
tracking img