Stopping Genocide Through International Agreement When the Security Council Fails to Act
27 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2014
Date Written: August 01, 2008
There is tension between two core international law values: respect for state sovereignty and a commitment to peaceful relations among states, on the one hand, and the protection of basic human rights, on the other. While the UN has recently adopted a new norm -- the Responsibility to Protect -- regarding the positive meaning of sovereignty and the obligation of states to prevent genocide, the veto power of the Security Council's permanent members continues to block effective international coercive action. The UN is not likely to reform itself any time soon with respect to this issue. The tension inherent in UN values combined with the UN's inability to reform itself suggests that international law reform needs to take place outside the framework of the UN. This article argues two propositions: (1) that emerging customary law norms permit, and in some cases compel, humanitarian armed intervention to stop genocide when the Security Council has failed to do so; and (2) that the international community should adopt a treaty that allows for enforcement of the Genocide Convention by permitting action independent of the UN in accordance with specific criteria tailored to ensure that armed force is necessary, proportional, limited in duration, and has reasonable prospects for success.
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