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International law - Essay Example

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Introduction The United Nations has attempted to implement an international rule of law, however, it has not been entirely successful. The reasons why it is difficult to implement are manifold. One reason is that states traditionally have sovereignty, explained below…
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Download file to see previous pages This means that the decisions made do not have precedents on the other courts, which means that the provisions of international rules will continue to be applied inconsistently. A good example of a rule, however, is the responsibility to protect doctrine, which necessitates intervention in cases of genocide and other widespread human rights abuses. That said, even this doctrine is applied inconsistently, as seen in the case of Sri Lanka, a nation which has been at war for 30 years. This nation has not been the target of R2P intervention, and has, for many years, been largely ignored by the United Nations. This case study shows the limits of international rules of law, and demonstrates the need for a more comprehensive approach to be taken on the international stage. The Traditional Meaning of Sovereignty The United Nations' attempts to establish an international rule of law meets a stumbling block in the form of the concept of state sovereignty. State sovereignty is a powerful and traditional concept, and has traditionally been the bedrock of world order and interstate relations. (Supplement to the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty). What state sovereignty means is that every nation-state has the right to rule its people, and dispose of its resources, by its own independent edicts (International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, p. 12). Because of the concept of state sovereignty, the protected and respected norm, even by the United Nations, is one of non-intervention. State sovereignty is such a paramount concept that, if one nation violates it, then the offended nation can defend itself by right, and the United Nations protects this right to defend (International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, p. 12). That said, state sovereignty is not absolute, and is subjected to international rules and regulations. Moreover, in today's globalized world, state sovereignty has become ever-more tenous. The reality of today's world is that national borders are often breached by environmental, cultural and economic influences through technological and communication advances (Supplement to the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty). State sovereignty is also limited in that nations agree that, in order to maintain their sovereignty, to protect their citizens, and this enables the international community to hold wayward nations accountable for their own actions towards their citizens (International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, p. 12). In other words, if a nation is committing atrocities against its citizens, then that nation effectively relinquishes its own sovereignty, and the international community has the right to step in and intervene when this occurs. International Rule of Law The other concept that should be understood in this context is the concept of an international rule of law, and the brief historical basis for this. Chesterman (2008) has explored this concept in depth. He states that the international rule of law has been promoted through international treaties, development actors (including donor States), and security actors (such as the U.N. Security Council). The latter has promoted the rule of law as a form of conflict resolution, claims Chesterman. He sees the international rule of law operating to protect human rights by issuing human rights treaties, as well as international codes ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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