Civil wars are, today, since the end of the Cold War, the dominant form of conflicts all around the world. For instance, as Stephen John Stedman explains, 'all thirty-five of the wars in 1997 were primarily internal' . Massive violence, destruction and killing tend, so, nowadays, to happen within states borders and no more in an inter-state context. Moreover, empirical studies show us, that among the total casualty figures of internal wars since 1945, the so-called 'wars of the third kind', 'approximately 90% of the casualties were civilians' .
As an international organization whose first purpose is to promote global peace and the respect of human rights, the UN can be expected to intervene in order to protect the victims of these civil wars and to establish peace. But this idea is often undermined by the concept of state sovereignty. There is, so, an important dilemma of how to react to such situations as ethnic cleansing, gross violence and explicit violation of human rights within a nation-state, raising the question of the responsibility of the UN in contrast with the sovereign character of states, their exclusive right to exercise supreme political authority . Is there an existing 'responsibility to protect'? Is the UN capable of protecting the victims of these internal conflicts?
[...] The responsibility to protect is so a reality, but the UN has, in recent years, encountered various difficulties when trying to protect the victims of third kind wars. First, since the beginning, the organization has to deal carefully with the question of sovereignty of its member states. For instance, in 1948, when the draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was presented to the General Assembly, a Soviet delegate declared that number of articles completely ignore[d] the sovereign rights of democratic governments( . [...]
[...] Most agree that today this principle should be questioned in order to allow humanitarian interventions, and this because of the moral reasons I have expressed before, but the problem is that there is a 'lack of consensus in the international community over how to achieve a proper balance between sovereignty and human rights' . There is no proper treaty today which sets out explicitly the conditions under which humanitarian intervention should be permissible and it is very unlikely that the international community could really reach an agreement on such a contentious matter. [...]
[...] So, even if humanitarian intervention and protection of refugees and other victims of third kind wars appears as a duty for the international community and more specifically the UN, reluctance to enter a long conflict costly in terms of soldiers lives and money and attachment to the concept of sovereignty are two current obstacles for the organization while trying to fulfil its mission If the international community encounters so much difficulty to agree on the degree to which the principle of non-intervention in the domestic jurisdiction of a sovereign state can be overruled in the case of gross human rights violations and genocide, many have argued that the concept of sovereignty on itself had to be rethought. [...]
[...] assess the various difficulties the organization is facing while trying to fulfil this mission, mostly linked with the concept of sovereignty, and finally I will redefine sovereignty in today's world politic context, where the acceptance of humanitarian intervention, rather to go against it, is more a component of it. The arguments in favour of humanitarian intervention can come from two different perspectives: a legal basis and a moral, normative foundation. Historically, humanitarian intervention, as any kind of intervention within a state, is condemned by treaty and customary law as a breach of the sovereignty of the state. [...]
[...] Therefore, the notion of sovereignty in these countries is still strongly traditional 'as a defence against the dynamics of an unequal world' But failure to intervene can also be due to a disinclination of states to get involved in ventures generally long and costly in terms of human life and money. As Mills underlines 'to a large degree, the response to a particular crisis has depended upon the interest and will of one or more great powers, and this is likely to continue.' This is linked with the so-called 'dynamic of escalation' which actually give choice between either a strict non-intervention or a complete military intervention in face of humanitarian disasters. [...]
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