Feb 25, 2007

respect for sovereignty saves lives

Regarding the current resolution, a reader writes,
I was wondering if you had any specific ideas or evidence on running (neg) a value of protection of life and saying that incursions into national sovereignty in the name of human rights would
a. cause civil war/strife on a level worse than balancing HR and sovereignty
b. weaken the power of the U.N (by losing members etc.) to the point that it can't save lives as effectively
c. possibly damage the human rights which it was trying to protect
I'll address each one in turn.

a. Call the first claim the "Iraq objection." An invasion in the name of saving the world from weapons of mass destruction and freeing the Iraqi people from the rule of a tyrant has sparked civil war and caused thousands of deaths. The ultimate outcome is still in doubt, but the principle holds: sovereignty isn't just a symbol, but an expression of real power within a territory. The power vacuum that results from an incursion means that new powers will attempt to establish sovereignty, often in a bloodbath, and often along sectarian or ethnic lines. (The chaos after the fall of Communism, especially in Yugoslavia, is a similar historical example.)

b. This is a serious matter. The UN receives 22% of its funding from the United States, which, not surprisingly, also values its sovereign status quite dearly. (John Bolton, anyone?) The tenuous relationship between the US and the UN, exacerbated by Iraq and the scandal of the Annan years, means that the UN's efficacy is always questionable. Were the UN to continue to encroach upon sovereignty, withdrawal by the United States (and other nations) would be highly likely.

c. This is the outcome of a. and b. If the fundamental human right is the right to life, then we must protect sovereignty to preserve life.

I would also add a new point:

d. Rather than creating strife by intervening in a sovereign state, the UN can justify humanitarian intervention in failed states on the grounds that a sovereign state no longer exists. The contemporary view of sovereignty includes legitimacy as a requisite component. Sovereigns have obligations to their citizens and to the citizens of other nations.

For more on these matters, see Law, Power, and the Sovereign State.

Aff's, have at it.


Anonymous said...

"The contemporary view of sovereignty includes legitimacy as a requisite component" - i don't really buy this contemporary view - go back to the social contract - if everytime rights were violated we didn't recognize a nation as a sovereign there would be no real nations.

I think there's an easier way to go about this from the neg

Jim Anderson said...

It's obvious that all governments at some point are going to violate rights. Legitimacy comes in degrees. Also, which social contract? Under Hobbes or Rousseau, "human rights" have a different flavor than the current UN conception.

Since this is UN resolution, we have to look to contemporary versions of both human rights and sovereignty.

I encourage you to share your "easier way," since we're all looking for one.

Anonymous said...

well first definitions - respect - and protect.
since we are not arguing that the UN has both obligations - the point of contention should be value.
so what will determine value within the UN? priority.

what should be given priority? calling "upon the parties concerned to comply with such provisional measures as it deems necessary or desirable" or invasive action - as protection may entail - as you said "It goes beyond merely promoting in word or deed, I'd argue, and requires action, via force or otherwise, to ensure that rights aren't being violated. The resolution implies that "serious" protection somehow threatens sovereignty."

Anonymous said...

of course - that depends on how you define respect and what national sovereignty actually is...just some thoughts.

Anonymous said...

a problem i see with point b -

if you argue that NS needs to be valued because without you weaken the UN's ability to save lives - doesn't negate. you'd actually be giving NS intrumental value and HR (life for instance) intrinsic value - which being the end goal the aff will argue is more desired.

Jim Anderson said...

"...since we are not arguing that the UN has both obligations - the point of contention should be value."

I wouldn't say that at all. Even a cursory reading of the UN's Charter and Declaration of Human Rights will establish its obligations in both regards.

Priority, even if both are obligations, is a clear way to define "value above."

However, it would undercut your last claim, that valuing means holding ends "above" means. (If both are equally necessary, as a "balance" neg will argue, that argument fails.)

Useful comments. Thanks for contributing.

Anonymous said...

no - sorry for not being clear - that's exactly what i meant.

both RNS and PGHR are obligations. therefore - in times of conflict (because that is when it is most easily evaluated) which ever mean used first is the prioritized mean and therefore more valued mean/obligation of the UN.

So from the neg - you pick a value - the ultimate goal of the UN (lets say international peace for instance) VC - priority of means.

establish that both RNS and PGHR are means to the ultimate end and then show how in conflict situations the UN does/should prioritize RNS. (look to article 33, "the parties to any dispute shall FIRST ....or other peaceful means of their OWN choice).

Anonymous said...

new anonymous

Well what would be some examples that support your last posting

"establish that both RNS and PGHR are means to the ultimate end and then show how in conflict situations the UN does/should prioritize RNS."