The doctrine of ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) was founded upon the notion that the international community ought to never again repeat the same mistakes in their failure to intervene in the Rwandan crisis, which led to an escalation of humanitarian intervention in the post-Cold war era. Theories concerning humanitarian intervention are often sceptical of its justifiability, citing that coercive means of engaging in military intervention are contradictory of its purpose, namely to end the abuse of human rights.
Until today, popular discourse surrounding the rights of states to intervene remain in disagreement particularly with regards to a state’s obligation to respond towards ‘crimes against humanity’ directed at those beyond their borders (Evans and Sahnoun, 2002). Nevertheless, the crises of Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Kosovo in the 1990s prompted the international community to reassess its abilities and moral obligations when contemplating intervention, especially considering the failure of the United Nations in responding ‘too little too late’ in the Rwandan crisis and NATO’s intervention in Kosovo that gave rise to the unpopularity of intervention.
In response, the international community aimed to establish a redefinition of intervention, in which a state’s sovereign rights were no longer to be framed as having the “right to intervene” but rather the “responsibility to protect”. As a result, in 2001 the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) drafted the framework based on just war principles which came to be known as the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) doctrine. The doctrine called for states to fulfil their obligations in their responsibility to prevent, react and rebuild in response to the four mass atrocities of genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
As expected, the adoption of the framework by the UN garnered mixed reactions, dividing the international community into camps of those in support of intervention to protect human rights against states who strongly defended their sovereign rights to self-determination of their domestic affairs. Regardless, since the adoption of the R2P principle in 2005, its existence as a norm endorsed by the United Nations has not revolutionised humanitarian intervention in any practical terms, more than it has been in theory, generally due to the absence of the political will of states to engage in intervention where it does not concern their interests.
The question of obligation and political will is no more apparent in the Rohingya crisis, which has now been dubbed as the second worst humanitarian crisis behind Syria. For decades, the Rohingya Muslims have been subjected to persecution and ethnic discrimination, in which the Arakan Project Report has revealed massive violations of rights endured by the people, all of which would fall under the crimes of mass atrocities that would warrant intervention from the international community under the R2P doctrine.
Although it was reported that the Rohingyas have resided in Myanmar for the last two centuries (Uddin, 2014), they have been denied of access to any basic rights by the authorities of Myanmar who regard them as ‘illegal immigrant’ and thus, are dependent on humanitarian aid provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have also extended support to accommodate the Rohingyas, but Bangladesh has particularly felt the constraint and depletion in their resources, causing them to refuse assistance for any more Rohingyas, in fear of surging anti-Rohingya sentiments within their community.
While the Burmese governments claimed to be doing all they can to de-escalate the hostilities in what they call ‘a communal strife’ between the Rohingya Muslims and Arakanese Buddhists, they have not taken any absolute or substantial measures in ensuring that the crisis would end and that they would reform to their nationality laws to grant protection to the Rohingyas. The security forces in Myanmar have instead been reported to partake in a devastating campaign to drive out the Rohingyas into Bangladesh and ‘wipe-out’ all of those that remain. It is also worth noting that while the Rohingyas have been forcefully driven out of Myanmar to Bangladesh, as they believe that considering that is where the Rohingyas originally came from. In turn, the Rohingyas have undergone repatriation by the Bangladeshi authorities to them back to Myanmar where they are not wanted, rendering them without a place to return to with no rights to protect them.
In their constant shift between borders, the Rohingyas have been abandoned to settle in and around settlement camps which have only prolonged their worsening living conditions. In lacking a citizenship to neither Myanmar nor Bangladesh, the Rohingyas are rendered stateless with no protection under the framework of international law due to the absence of rights. Hence, it is crucial that the international community ought to fulfil their obligations laid out by the R2P so as to ensure that the Rohingya crisis would not be a repetitive mistake as observed in Rwanda.
Therefore, through a small-N approach, this dissertation will explore the conceptual difficulties that arises when contemplating intervention under the R2P doctrine and whether the international community is morally justified in choosing to not intervene in the Rohingya crisis. The paper hypothesises that the international community is not justified and this will be argued specifically through evaluating the problems that arises from sovereignty in intervention, and the denial of rights to the stateless Rohingyas.
The primary aim of this paper is to identify and evaluate the factors that justify the extent that states can be morally justified in their failure to respond to their obligations to promote and protect the rights of citizens within their own borders and those beyond in accordance to the R2P doctrine. Many theories surrounding the moral justifiability of intervention suggests that intervention is almost always not justified, this section will thus attempt to uncover and critically review whether this statement holds.
When we speak of intervention, it concerns of military intervention through coercive and forceful means, a concept which seemingly juxtaposes the humanitarian purposes of rescuing victims of tyranny that it has desired to achieve with the use of force, a power that can easily be abused by external forces. As a result, it is difficult to determine the exact moral weight of pursuing intervention.
Humanitarian military intervention has been defined as the “forceful reactions to circumstances when the violation of human rights within a set of boundaries is so terrible that it makes talk of community or self-determination or ‘arduous struggle’ seem so cynical and irrelevant, that is, in cases of enslavement or massacre” (Davidovic, 2008). Many commentators criticise the inconsistency of using humanitarian intervention to tackle these violations to human rights due to the very fact that the same states that produce frameworks to create moral obligations in intervening in another state’s domestic affairs and breach its sovereignty are the same states that either fail to address violations to human rights due to political costs or fail to act in timely fashion to de-escalate the conflict.
There is a strong lack of consensus within existing academic literature regarding humanitarian intervention and R2P, where its usage has alluded to the mishandling of responding to conflict, setting further bad examples of its implementation. While the just war theory on intervention attempts to determine the cases for which wars can be justified with the use of force as a pre-emptive measure, the R2P doctrine merely outlines ways in which states must undertake preventive measures such as sanctions in addressing the violations of rights rather than to pursue intervention with force, so as to not fear the breach of any sovereignty that could lead to the greater consequences or retaliation. It is expected that states would act inconsistently as responses to mass atrocities would range accordingly due to the differing magnitude of the conflict and capabilities of states to tackle them.
Walzer (1977) asserts that it is justified to infringe upon a state’s sovereignty through intervention when the “fit”, that is the social contract between citizens and the government, is broken due to the rise of “national liberation” movements directed against the state. Such rebellions determine that the “fit” is thus broken and the government cannot claim legitimacy. He also argues that sovereignty may be overridden and intervention is only morally justified for humanitarian reasons which includes the protection of human rights against extreme abuses such as genocide or other ‘crimes against humanity’. In other circumstances, intervention is thus morally prohibited due to the notion that intervention is tantamount to the double violation of rights, namely the rights of the people to self-determination and the rights of the state to sovereignty and territorial integrity.
However, such crimes may be overstated and too broad to allow appropriate measures to be taken when considering intervention especially as defining what ‘crimes against humanity’ generally entails is subjective to an individual. Nardin and Slater (1986) criticises Walzer’s emphasis on the “fit” between the government and its citizens citing that human rights abuses may also occur in communities where such ‘fit’ exists, especially in instances of majority tyranny.
On the question of sovereignty, Nardin and Slater (1986) assert that a plausible argument surrounding the justifiability of intervention would imply that sovereignty is dependent on the extent that it promotes and protects the interests of its citizens. Should a state abuse the human rights of its people, it would lose its legitimacy and sovereignty as a consequence. But even if an intervention would be justified, the extent as to whether states commit to it is hindered by the practical constraint of states engaging in military interventions.
In response to this, the R2P doctrine insists that states contemplating intervention should exhaust less coercive, more peaceful means before engaging in military intervention. In the case where crises necessitate coercive measures, the intervention ought to successfully bring an end to the violations (Walzer, 1977; Kant, 1795; Hill, 2009). This alludes the notion that humanitarian military intervention can and must be pursued by powerful states, in which such states are often those capable to do so as they have the resources. The R2P also emphasises that sovereignty is conditional upon the fulfilment of state obligation towards the protection of rights of both its citizens and members of the international community. By possessing sovereign rights, states have the responsibility to interfere and respond to tyranny and abuse of rights in another state, and the failure or refusal to do so would deem states as ‘irresponsible’.
According to Moses, the term sovereignty has undergone a redefinition in which states are now ‘instruments at the service of their peoples’ and that it functions to the promote the collective sovereignty of communities within its borders, enhanced by the fundamental rights of each individuals (2013). This maintains the principles of R2P in which with membership of the international community, it entails responsibilities derived from being a sovereign.
However, Fabrice Weissman of Médecins Sans Frontières strongly criticises the use of R2P in humanitarian interventions in which he argues it to be contradictory, citing that the ends (the provision of relief and ending abuses of rights) do not justify the means (through coercive, military intervention). Moreover, the idea that states must respond to their responsibility in cases of supreme emergency in accordance to the R2P would also induce fears that states would act irresponsibly when they engage in intervention out of wrong intentions, those of which are often imperialist.
b. Mixed motives
Such issue is highlighted in the debate surrounding mixed motives, a recurring feature of humanitarian intervention and R2P that is associated with other inherent problems such as issues of sovereignty and non-interference, proper authority and where to draw the line (what determines that the state is successful). Walzer shares the common assumption that it is very rarely the case where interventions are embarked upon purely humanitarian motives. His argument alludes to the notion that states contemplating intervention do not do a good job upon weighing the lives of strangers very strongly in their domestic decision-making.
As a result, states would only be interested in intervening should there be something of interest to them and this determines that such kinds of intervention will be unjust as it is not done out of the right intent. Mill contends that states that unjust states are states that interfere in another’s affairs purely to serve its own self-interests;
‘The good of others is not one of the things you care for; but you are willing to meddle, if by meddling you can gain anything for yourselves’ (Mill, 1859).
Nevertheless, under the circumstance that a conflict would threaten the security of a state, it would be justified to intervene in order to protect their own security because they have the common right to self-defence. It is only just for states to go to war to defend themselves, and not for aggressive reasons such as regime change. In other conditions, Mill argued that all states must adhere to principles of non-interference. He also argued that foreign intervention in another state is seldom legitimate, because it is uncertain that such intervention would be successful in restoring the liberty of the people and freedom from oppression. In cases where intervention succeeds, any achievements will neither be substantial nor permanent.
Tesòn however declares that critics have only scratched the surface when assessing the condition of right intent, in that they have failed to take account the difference between intention and motive. Tesòn attempts to establish this distinction by following Mill’s argument that when evaluating an action, the intention of the intervener is more important than its motive. The ‘double role’ of intention depicts that when a state pursues intervention in response to mass atrocities under the intent of rescuing the victims and successfully achieves doing so, the intervention is already in itself humanitarian even if the motive of the intervention is out of self-interest. This is because, in being a part of the international community, it is in their vested interest that states should act to intervene on crimes against humanity in where it happens. But Tesón argues that states, foremost, owe a fiduciary duty to their own citizens and that it is morally wrong for states to prioritise the needs of others before their own.
There has been insufficient literature concerning the moral stance of statelessness, in which liberal political theory has often ignored or classified it under topics analogous to it such as immigration or refugeehood. The issue of statelessness has generally revolved around the ethics of admission; whether states are morally justified when they refuse to admit refugees into their borders. However, in categorising statelessness with refugees, popular discourse has failed to illustrate the intrinsic and conceptual difficulties that arises in responding to the treatment of statelessness and our moral obligations towards stateless persons.
It is first important to lay out the distinction between refugees and stateless, whereby refugees are those that run away across the international border to escape persecution. Meanwhile, the stateless do not have a place to return to because they face discrimination and often persecution from the state that they were born into and reside in. Statelessness is then further distinguished as de jure and de facto stateless, in which de jure stateless persons are defined by international law as individuals ‘who are not recognised by any state under the operation of its law’ (UNHCR, 1954). De facto stateless are persons who possess ineffective nationality and are not protected by the state that denies them of basic rights (Belton, 2011).
Nevertheless, stateless and refugees share the similar vulnerabilities whereby their position on membership to a state has rendered them in danger of security concerns. But at the same time, they differ in context where, as mentioned, refugees flee to escape oppression yet they may still be citizens of the state. Stateless persons are not members of any polity and are denied of citizenship which is essential to various rights. In their denial of membership, their rights are thus violated by the very state where they were born into and it is by the sovereign state itself that they can secure their rights (Arendt, 1978). Hence, they are not noncitizen outsiders that existing literature has solely focused on but rather noncitizens insiders that seek for political inclusion that grants them the rights they need to be protected from persecution.
Membership plays a central role in the issue of statelessness, but arguments surrounding whether membership in a state is either a public good or basic right vary. Walzer (1983) specifies that membership is a ‘primary good that we distribute to one another’ via political decision-making but he does not deem it to be a human right. In making this assumption, Walzer has contradicted himself in the sense that while he regards statelessness to be ‘a condition of infinite danger’, membership should then foremost be regarded as a human right as it is precisely the accessibility to human rights that protects us from such dangers. Therefore, to deny membership would deny the stateless any protection as echoed by Benhabib (2004) in which she regards membership to be the ‘right to have rights’.
Therefore, this paper will utilise existing literature to evaluate whether some states are morally justified in their failure to respond or fulfil their ‘responsibility to protect’ in the Rohingya crisis, while referencing the R2P doctrine. It will specifically analyse a crucial issue surrounding non-intervention, namely the issue of sovereignty as well as the less prominent topic of statelessness, which would exhibit the inherent difficulties that our moral obligation entails when contemplating intervention in the Rohingya crisis.
Chapter 1: The problematic question of sovereignty
In this chapter, I will attempt to uncover the inherent difficulties that sovereignty entails when contemplating intervention in response to tyranny. In order for a war to be regarded as just, Augustine argued, it must be executed by a proper authority. Advocates of the R2P doctrine allude the notion that sovereignty is preserved if states comply with the conditions attached. In the first part, I argue that sovereignty should not be represented by a traditional conceptualisation of sovereignty where states possess absolute control over its citizens, in which society is governed to serve the interests of the state. Instead, states are made up of a collective of individual communities, whose rights must be actively preserved by the state and thus, this shapes its ability to self-determine.
This will then play into the second part, whereby if states violate the human rights of its citizens, it fails to fulfil its responsibility as a sovereign to protect its people. As a result, if a state purposefully abuses the rights of its people, its sovereignty should then be ceded and as reflected in the R2P doctrine, the responsibility befalls on the international community.
1.1 Sovereignty as self-determination
Some commentators criticise the supposed ability of the international community to override a state’s sovereignty and accuse intervening states to infringe the sovereign’s rights to self-determination. However, the sovereignty of states should no longer be determined as its possession of absolute control over its citizens but rather as its responsibility to serve the interest of its people. In modern times, it is very rarely the case that states are made up of a single majority within its borders but rather, there are smaller minority groups that still make up a substantial part of the state’s ethnography, of whom are also entitled to individual self-determination. It is this particular subset of individuals whose welfare and interests are often left unaccounted for, such as the case of the Rohingyas of whose rights the Burmese government failed to uphold.
The denial to self-determination for the Rohingyas by the Burmese government has been fairly documented for decades in which the ethnic group is now one of the most persecuted communities (Hamling, 2014). In the UN Charter, the rights to self-determination revolves around principles of equal rights and opportunity which specifies that states must promote and encourage the right to fundamental freedoms for all. The rights of the Rohingyas have been consistently denied by the Burmese government, whereby the ethnic group became excluded from the list of recognised ethnics in Burma via the ratification of the Citizenship Act of 1982. This led them to be deprived of rights to education and health services (Childs Right Forum of Burma, 2011) as well as the right to marry and reproduce (Lewa, 2012). In stripping the Rohingyas of their citizenry, it also deprived them of any opportunities to work, rendering them unemployed and in poverty.
The redefinition of state sovereignty into the concept of individual rights implies that sovereignty is to be made conditional, in whereby states are instruments used in the protection of the people’s individual rights and the promotion of their interests, which then grants them to retain their sovereign status. However, as previously mentioned, states usually do not comprise of a single autonomous community. As evident in the rise of nationalist and secessionist conflicts in the 1990s, the ethnographic composition of states is often so variant, alienated and segregated that it is not tantamount to being a single nation-state but is rather multinational (Moses, 2009).
The absence of a single collective can be no more the violence against the Rohingya Muslims carried out by the Rakhine Buddhists. As a result, because there is no single collective “self” and this would determine that intervention does not necessarily mean that the state’s sovereignty is infringed. This because it does not violate the rights of a single collective community, but rather it has promoted the rights and self-determination of another collective(s), particularly of the oppressed community. Often, governments do not represent the whole set of nationalities within the state but of only one and any intervention directed against the government does not infringe on its rights to sovereignty on the condition that the intervention is constrained to actions of the government that considered liable to intervene under R2P.
However, in the absence of a higher authority, it is difficult to put R2P doctrine to practice amongst states considering that there is no guaranteed way for states to be regulated and accountable of their actions. The Security Council can also be accused of misusing their authority when authorising intervention, both in the contexts to allow or not authorise an intervention. Even if the responsibility is ceded to the international community, there is still the possibility for states to abuse such power and it will further extend arguments over power struggles in the R2P doctrine.
A concern that arises in this context is the problematic power of the veto, in which even if majority of the P5 members authorised an intervention, the veto of a single member may prevent an intervention from ever happening. The sovereignty of the member state entails that it has a responsibility to respond to violations of human rights in supreme emergencies, and that to veto would mean to allow for the conflict to prolong and this alludes that the state is acting irresponsibly. It also determines, in being a part of the international community, states are acting irresponsibly by not fulfilling their sovereign duties to respond and protect all those whose self-determination is harmed by ‘crimes against humanity’.
A prime example of state irresponsibility through the use of veto can be observed when, in November 2017, the UN Security Council attempted to weigh a draft resolution that aimed to pressure Myanmar authorities into ceasing any military operations and to address the severe violence that caused many of Rohingya Muslims to be driven out of the country. The draft veto faced strong opposition from China in which a Security Council diplomat stated that “[China] want us to say nothing and do nothing on this issue” citing that China has supported Myanmar’s previous ruling junta. Therefore, China’s decision to veto would not only allow more Rohingyas to be pushed out of Myanmar, but it will also worsen their inabilities to self-determine and be subjected to even worse conditions.
1. 2 Sovereignty as responsibility
Sovereignty holds a contentious position in humanitarian interventions whereby much of the argument on just war theory defends the notion that interventions can indeed be permissible by breaching of a state’s sovereignty, most particularly in situations where there are grave violations of human rights. Often, states reject external interventions out of the fear that by subjecting their sovereignty to infringement, they would lose all autonomy in governing their people. But it is precisely the purpose of sovereignty and self-determination that gives them its moral value, namely the responsibility to uphold the values of human rights. States use their sovereignty as tools so that they are able to have the power to function domestically and externally, and thus, if we regard sovereignty as means and not ends, it determines that sovereignty can be justified as means to intervene.
Furthermore, when states contemplate intervention, the threshold of their obligation is not made clear and this uncertainty drives them away from fulfilling their responsibility to intervene in human rights abuses. However, a state should not be regarded as just until it at least commits to be minimally decent in a crisis. Following Thompson’s distinction between a Good Samaritan and a Minimally Decent Samaritan, it is enough for the latter to provide support for an intervention, compared to the former which entails having to directly intervene (Davidovic, 2008). This notion of minimal decency is implied in the framework of R2P, in which states must at least employ the readily available measures such as mediation, sanctions, or warnings. Hence, in using a state’s sovereignty as a tool, it possesses the responsibility to at least be minimally decent in a crisis in order to be a just state, provided that it is unable to conduct military intervention.
The idea that using sovereignty as means to commit a certain act would also lead to the fear that states could also misuse it, to which they would then use sovereignty as a claim right to protection from intervention for their abuses. In these cases, Walzer argued that states should not be entitled to protection from external intervention in circumstances where they are guilty of committing ‘crimes against humanity’. Under the R2P doctrine, sovereignty entails the notion that the sovereignty of states is no longer determined by the absolute control of a government on a given territory. By being a part of the international community, states have the responsibility to promote and protect the rights of citizens within their own borders, and by inflicting oppression onto its citizens alludes the fact that the state has failed to fulfil said responsibility.
The international society is structured in a way that is governed by a framework of rules that allows sovereign states to function through the protection of ‘values of individual life and communal liberty’ within its borders (Walzer, 1978). A state’s sovereign status rests on the extent that the state does not abuse or violate the human rights of its civilians, because if sovereignty is left arbitrary, it will simply be a moral and legal tool that states use to violate international law in the abuse of human rights. States that commit acts considered as ‘crimes against humanity’ is thus denied of protection from principles of non-intervention and R2P determines that the international community must then respond to their moral duty to intervene.
The authorities of Myanmar have repeatedly claimed that its aggression against the Rohingyas to be a domestic security matter, citing its sovereignty as an excuse to reject external interventions and block access to humanitarian aid, and for the international community to stop interfering in its internal affairs. It is precisely the claim of internal decisions that has allowed them the opportunity to prolong oppression on the Rohingyas as well as the failure of the ASEAN to address or acknowledge the crisis. In 1999, Aung Suu Kyi herself made a contradicting statement against ASEAN’s non-interference principle.
“This policy of non-interference is just an excuse for not helping. In this day and age, you cannot avoid interference in the matters of other countries.” (Suu Kyi, 1999, The Nation)
Furthermore, Myanmar’s ability to continue its aggression on the Rohingyas has also garnered widespread support internally, in which anti-Rohingya sentiments have been felt amongst most elites and Burmese citizens. Other states may also refuse to committing intervention in another sovereign state if it does not serve the interests of its own people. While it is certain that states have a fiduciary duty to serve the people within their own borders, it is important to weigh the extent that sovereignty also entails duties to those beyond. The principle of non-intervention has been a justification that states use to avoid the question of intervention, of which holds a sacred place in the ASEAN Charter, of which is cited as the ‘ASEAN way’. The regional organisation was formed as a platform for Southeast-Asian states in their cohesion of shared values and identities, and that non-interference of domestic affairs of another member state would be to respect its sovereignty. When Malaysia and Indonesia had openly criticised in a rally against the Burmese government in their inaction and aggression towards the Rohingyas, they had been accused of breaching the principle of non-interference.
This notion of non-intervention has proven to be problematic in the sense that while the international community continues to debate on the different peaceful ways to stop the genocide on the Rohingyas, the number of casualties will further escalate if left without proper military intervention. Even if states do not possess substantial relations to the Rohingyas themselves, their sovereignty should form the basis for their positive duty in virtue of the protection of universal human rights and moral equality (Pattison, 2013). The R2P determines that such duty stems from the shared practice of sovereignty and in abiding the legal framework of human rights.
It would, therefore, be unjust and contradictory for ASEAN states to uphold the principle of non-intervention while functioning under the pretence of promoting shared values since the Burmese government and Rakhine Buddhists are persecuting the Rohingyas in their attempt to ethnically cleanse and “wipe them off the map”. This undermines their claim of shared values and identity, in which the very identity of the Rohingyas as an ethnic minority of Myanmar are being actively cleansed and the values shared amongst several Muslim-majority ASEAN countries of upholding Islamic beliefs are not protected.
While sovereignty also grants states the right to remain neutral, the crisis has been so long on-going that it has eventually affected neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, of whom has experienced migrations of Rohingya refugees. The fiduciary duties of states towards the interests of the people within their own borders would thus be affected if they choose to not intervene on the crisis. This is because it would inevitably affect the well-being of its citizens, where in accommodating the refugees would lead to a strain in their resources shared with their people, and thus, it would be in their vested interest to sacrifice their neutrality and intervene. The rallies conducted in Malaysia and Indonesia as previously mentioned would demonstrate that the people have expressed their interest, which Walzer argues is the “fit”, required in condemning the Burmese government for their actions and in following the ‘ASEAN way’ would determine that it is unjust for states to commit to non-intervention.
The case with Bangladesh would demonstrate how by not pursuing intervention, it would inadvertently affect the well-being of the citizens within its borders. It is assumed that the Rohingyas had been descendants and illegal immigrants that originated from Bangladesh to Myanmar, but while the Rohingyas are not citizens of Bangladesh, the country has been hosting a growing number of Rohingya refugees since the early 1960s (Mollah et al, 2004). Over the years, the influx of refugees into their borders garnered major constraints on their resources and eventually, Rohingyas were forcefully repatriated to Myanmar as supervised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). As conditions in Myanmar further deteriorated, there was no place for the Rohingyas to return to.
The systemic violations against the Rohingyas have gradually transcended beyond the borders of Myanmar, which implies that the international community should no longer regard Myanmar’s sovereignty as an excuse to not fulfil their responsibility to intervene. At the 2005 UN World Summit, the responsibility to protect was limited to four humanitarian crises, i.e. genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and war crimes, all of which are present and viable to external intervention.
In their failure to intervene, the internationally community is unjustified if they invoke reasons to non-intervention out of respect of sovereignty due to reasons as explored in this chapter. Firstly, while sovereignty entails the right to self-determination, critics fail to acknowledge that it is the right of the people to self-determine and not the state considering that states function to serve the interests of its people. Also, as states constitute different collectives of individual communities of whom have the right to self-determine, the state that oppresses an ethnic community denies it of self-determination and as a result, fails to protect the interests of its citizens and is viable to intervention.
On the other hand, sovereignty also entails the responsibility to protect and promote rights of its citizens and those beyond. As sovereignty is a means to an end, it is determined that it is conditional on whether the state is able to perform said responsibility and in cases where it inflicts human rights abuses, its sovereignty should be forfeited. Also, while a state has the right to neutrality, it would be just if it commits minimally decent actions in the protection of rights, especially if the crisis would inevitably affect the well-being of its people.
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