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POL208Y1 (500)


6 Pages

Political Science
Course Code
Jean- Yves Haine

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HUMAN RIGHTS - Structure of international system limits opportunities for moral actions, there are principles; sovereignty and non- intervention that are the bedrock of the system, and conflict about values themselves (divergent conceptions of human rights) - We almost come to a specific assessment/evaluation of one particular case, and most of the time it is a failure - From a moral standing we need an active policy, but to contemplate minimal intervention it is extremely difficult to put that into practice, - Moreover HR issues are perceived as another attempt by the west to impose standards of the developed world and these standards seem to reflect first and foremost their own parochial interest rather than universal good - The never disappearing issue of national interest is always in the background, in the name of national security states do violate human rights, but in the name of HK states have also launched act of aggression... - Always saying that mass massacres like Rwanda won’t happen again...but it does - Millions have people demonstrated again war on Iraq, domestic conditions are also important - Origins of HR in IS is relatively new - Historically hr issues were inseparable from developing of modern states, from civilization to the French and American revolution; French and Americans tend to speak for the rest of the world, they have this messianic policies, and their policies are a little different - In western tradition, usually talk about rights of individual, HDHR in UN was western, talked about rights of individual, over the last century there has been increasing recognization of rights not belonging to individual per se, but to specific groups (minorities, females, etc.)...this became part of the un convanent - The nature of these rights as they have been recognized on international level has been extended, the first generation of human rights; civil and political rights, second generation which focus on economic/social/cultural rights and recognized in 1966 un convention, issue of hr emerged in international agenda quite recently - There is still disagreement about the exact legal weight of the UNDHR in 1948...for others it seems customary law, in 1948 there were several states that could not accept it (South America, couldn’t’ accept that all are born free and equal), - Un declaration was first to individual rights, not rights to left untouched the two fundamental twins of the international system; sovereignty and non-intervention in domestic affairs of other states (Because of these two pillars, we can understand the abolition of slave trade was much easier to achieve than abolition of slavery itself) - Issue of slavery compelled state in its own domestic affair - After WWII, the willingness among international community to revolt old of WWII put the issue of HR very high on the agenda, the same impetus was absent after the Napoleonic wars and after the WWI, league of nations had no explicit address to human rights - HR issue emerged relatively late, only to find themselves caught in the face of the cold war, with the two giants facing each other, strategic was much more important than HR, the ultimate moral duty at the time was to avoid nuclear war, ,only in the brief movement in Detence in 1970s was the issue of human rights re-introduced b/t us and soviet union, after years of diplomacy it did culminate with the Esinke agreement, it had a provision about the respect of human rights, but sovereignty and non-intervention was still more important; The west didn’t move an inch to protect human rights in the east - Only when the two giants of cold war didn’t have crucial interest at stake that HR could be addressed, one of the most important case of the time was South America, south America hr is complex, ,but it was the involvement advocacy groups and ngo that made issue of hr a concern and president carter in 80s but hr at forefront of us policies - After the cold war, once the logic of the two giants disappeared, than a space did open for human rights and consideration, these issues became prominent in international agenda, the UN role was re-activated, a lot of peacekeeping/making intervention did take place during the 90s - But mass murders/genocide continued to happen, failure of international community to stop the genocide in Rwanda led to a renewed effort to change the legal framework about the difficult relationship b/t the international system on one hand and the protection of human rights on the other; base FOR responsibility to protect concept - Duty for state is to protect human rights, international commission on intervention and state sovereignty, the ICISS, was an initiative of Canada and Australia and Norway, worked for couple of years, produced reports in 2001 about the responsibility to protect, tragedy was that they finished the report between 9/11, the agenda changed completely, the report stated that states have the primary resposonsibility to protect their citizens, that is the true moral standing of states, when states are unable/unwilling to protect their citizens, the principle of non-intervention yields to international responsibility to protect, in other words when you have a failure by state in protecting its own citizens, then the international community could act, this responsibility to protect not just about humanitarian issues, but also extended to prevention and reconstruction of a failed/tyrannical state, two failures were at the origin of that report 1)Kosovo, because the UN security council at the time did not reach a decisions, because Russia vetoed, 2) Rwanda, in the case of Rwanda, you will have a movie in march about Dallaire”shake hands with the devil”, the case of Rwanda was not even a case of the intervention, because some UN troops were already there, it is not a question of early warning or lack of information, indeed at un in new York there was some evidence that a massacre was occurring, the department of peacekeeping operation in nyc expressed regret that UN was unable to shut down the radio in Rwanda which was basically calling for mass murder, because you have un soldiers there it was not a matter of sending them to Rwanda, but a matter of reinforcing the troops that were already there to change the mandate, and that NEVER happened, there was a small group of Belgium troops under un mandate, 10 of them were killed, foreign mister at that time just asked the Belgium contingent to leave, if they left 3000 would die, Belgium marshals forced the Belgium battalion people, the day they left 3000 people were can see the dilemma, which was on one hand troops are killed on the ground and the other, need more troops to prevent massacre...the choice made by the west was withdrawing forces there...Rwanda left a huge mark in international relations, the US at the time did not move an inch, Clinton later apologized for not acting and at the time in the US the very word genocide was never used, because genocide carried with it an obligation to do something and intervene, during the event, Washington no one called it genocide, only called it that only after the fact, Rwanda was a failure of the international community to intervene, a failure to stop a genocide that caused the lives of 800 000 people in two months, at the same time the UN wasn’t really there, information was clear enough but nobody moved...leads to the difficult decision of moral choice - At the end of the day it is about leaders and decision makers making the right choice, realists consider true morality of statesmen is to keep their country secure, doubt there is something called an universal right, they consider that these rights are the historic expression of one particular state/group of states, and because there is no equivalent to an international public prosecutor, claims about these rights are often disguised as other sets of intentions, from aggression to domination, a country will always claim that it is acting in the name of HR, when it is acting in the name of its own national security/interest, for realists sovereignty is a protection against these interventions that are suppose to be concerned w/ HR but are in fact concerned about national security interests, after all Napoleon in Europe in the name of HR, but in fact it was an attempt to build French empire; Liberals are more concerned about hr and their defence, they are divided on the question of humanitarian intervention, any foreign policy that wants to include HR is a foreign policy with dilemma and difficulties, a foreign policy in HR risk to fall into meaningless and abstract generalities, it is one thing to claim to have morality in foreign policy, it is a another to base foreign policy on moral ground, in other words without the translation of a general agenda into pragmatic and effective policies, a moral foreign policy runs the risk of one of the empty declaration and good intention, second there is always the risk of hypocrisy, double standards and inconsistencies, why intervene there and not there? These inconsistencies are obvious in the case you may choose, and obvious in domestic policies, France can condemn regime in Burma, but in the same time French corporation “totale” (oil company) got a very successful contract with the regime in Burma, leads to 3 difficulty, absence of domestic base for action, most of the time a case have to be big, public opinion has to be convinced and on the other hand, a public outcry about a specific situation could lead to inappropriate intervention (e.g. in Somalia when US launched an operation in the name of human rights, but that operation was completely misconceived, ignored local, leaders have to combine a moral standing with an act of responsibility), criteria for moral action for statesmen need to be sound principle and effective - Moral politics; means and end is most difficult for moral foreign policy, the moral objective is always a relative proposition, it is relative because there is nothing like universally accepted standards, a decision maker has to project himself/herself into the realm of incapability with other’s moral play, in other words, there is no single moral code in international affairs, because there is no single moral code, that leads to a principle of self-restraint, the ethics of responsibility is also a calculus about the consequences of one action, and the unintended consequences of that action, all this need to be part of a moral choice, e.g. you may consider rightly from a moral pov that child labour in Bangladesh must be stop, it is a moral imperative to make sure children are not used as basically slaves in Bangladesh, yet without a proper education system such a prohibition put into effect can lead to disastrous consequences, if you don’t put into place where schools can exist and children can attend school you end up with a disastrous situation, you make it worst...another e.g. to denounce president bashir and indict him at international court may be the moral thing to do, but by doing so you may put into risk the fragile risk b/t north and south, for every moral position you take there are consequences, the current case of Libya is the typical example of where the calculus is complicated, from moral pov it makes sense to help the opposition to take power, but how do you do that? Direct intervention may not welcome my local opposition, so far we have the message from them, is we do not need you, you will do more than good, then you ask yourself what you can you do to limit the power of structure that the Libyan president did, decide to use a no-fly zone so he won’t be able to use it to bomb civilians because that it was the responsibility to protect is about, and then you have the military who says to you that a no-fly zone is difficult, because to do that the first thing you need is to destroy the Libyan air defence, in other words, in order to implement a no-fly zone is to bomb the capabilities of Kadefee, you may in doing so trigger collateral damages, you may in doing so strengthen position of Kalfee inside Libya, you may turn some part of the population against you, and yet at the end of the day the moral choice is about avoiding massacre in Libya, you have to consider all the time what could wrong in such intervention, do you wait for actual massacre to do something? Can you act preventively without some reason to do it? Do we have to wait that Kadafee will use aggression against population? Can you want to act, but there is no partnering countries, can you do it on your own? All these questions are dilemmas, there is no easy way to solve it, it is not an accident that issues of HR are so difficult to tackle, we always need to keep in mind that moral choice must be pragmatic, and yet over the years in Bosnia, Rwanda, Congo there is a matter of regularity in human rights violation and the can lead to despair about human nature and the incapacity of international community to act, hypocrisy of some decision maker, indifference to human suffering in the media, the short attention of span of media is always incredible, they can focus on a situation for two days, two weeks and then it’s over and forgotten and no longer talked about (e.g. Haiti, after earthquake focus was lasted a month, and it was forgotten) - Humanitarian intervention, is always a tough call, some have been successful, most have not, international community is learning by doing, we have learned from mistakes, UN have radically transformed its DPO in terms of peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention - How to reconcile moral imperative to act and responsibility, and opposing moral standards without falling into inaction, how to accommodate liberal principles of restraint with moral duties beyond borders, how to reconcile humanitarians tasks and effective strategy o All these question do not have an easy answer, basically the message is a call for pragmatism o Against humanitarian intervention: 1) state sovereignty, this is the bedrock of
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