Jun 27, 2008 at 10:46 pm Leave a comment

I recently read an interesting article in the International Herald Tribune, in which the writer, Alan Cowell makes an “improbable comparison” between the crisis in Zimbabwe and Ireland’s rejection of a new EU treaty for reform. His argument is that both nations display different examples of a question of how much jurisdiction, if any, international coalitions should have over the sovereignty of other countries.

Cowell writes: “The question in Ireland was whether the democratic voice of a land of 4.2 million could dictate events affecting the lives of 500 million Europeans. The question in Africa was whether an undemocratic coterie around Mugabe could defy its neighbors, its people and its own continent with complete impunity.”

Is the sovereignty of a nation the most important, or should organizations like the African Union, the European Union or the United Nations be able to force leaders of nations to give up power in their own nation based on the ideals of the rest of the world? Just how important is national sovereignty?
This topic as always interested me, particularly when looking at human rights abuses and genocides. At what point should the consciences of other nations force those nations to bound together to stop a country that is harming its people? Human rights abuses should be the core of any international coalition stepping into a particular countries’ business. However, with so many different ideologies about the role of government and the way people should live, the line often becomes to fine to draw and to blurry to lead to an agreement.
If human rights violations become the only reason for international coalitions to be able to completely overrule another country, what exactly constitutes a human rights abuse? In the case of Zimbabwe, could a completely broken economy with an inflation rate of 100,000 percent be reason enough? How much of a role should politics play? Is the lack of a free and democratic vote in Zimbabwe enough to step in? What about China, Russia or Cuba? Is one or a few countries’ dislike for another nations government system, like America’s dislike of Fidel Castro’s communism, reason enough for the whole world to get involved?
How many complaints about discrimination, whether based on ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation or religion, equal Does the situation have to be so out of hand, that only a genocide gives other countries that right? If that’s the case, as we’ve seen in the past, it is difficult to quantify a genocide for political reasons, especially during wartime.


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