Human Rights, Sovereignty and the Responsibility to Protect
24 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2014
In 2005 the UN General Assembly unanimously endorsed the doctrine of a Responsibility-to-Protect (R2P) human rights. This initiated a series of debates about whether two fundamental principles of international law, international human rights protections and state sovereignty, could still be thought of as compatible with one another. These debates suggest that the values of human rights and self-determination are on a collision course: if one values the international protection of human rights then one must accept that this may undermine the self-determination and sovereign equality of states, and if one values popular sovereignty and self-determination then one must accept that this may undermine the international protection of human rights. I defend the view that human rights and sovereignty are not antithetical values, but must be seen as mutually reinforcing principles of international law. On this basis I offer an account of the international community’s Responsibility to Protect human rights that is more demanding than the currently acknowledged account. I also show how my more ambitious account does not have to be purchased at the price of undermining the sovereign equality of states.
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