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Home arrow Africa arrow THE UNCONDITIONAL RESPECT FOR A COUNTRY’S SOVEREIGNTY IS RETROGRESSIVE AND SHOULD BE REVISITED BY
THE UNCONDITIONAL RESPECT FOR A COUNTRY’S SOVEREIGNTY IS RETROGRESSIVE AND SHOULD BE REVISITED BY PDF Print E-mail
Written by Joseph Ifeanyi Chikunie, Nigerian News Special Column   
May 29, 2008 at 09:17 PM

I am strongly averse to the so-called respect for the sovereignty of all states regardless of whatever plays out in those states. There is an urgent need to create a Special United Nations Intervention Council (SUNIC), which must exclusively deal with how all existing states of the world exercise authority over their subjects.

Think about the genocide in Rwanda; how one Nelson Mandela spent 27 of his adult life in prison for his fight for a free South Africa and how Moshood Abiola died in prison after winning a Nigerian Presidential election. How about Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar who continues to languish in detention clamped on her by an illegitimate government for being a promoter of democracy? How can we forget the actions of Idi Amin Dada of Uganda, Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, Sanni Abacha of Nigeria, Saddam Hussein of Iraq and a host of others who used their positions to inflict pains, death and trauma on their people? This sufficiently justifies why the world can no longer watch, while ‘some sovereign states’ wreck havoc and dehumanize their people among other heinous crimes being committed by them.

Furthermore, the formation of a United Nations Intervention Group will ultimately reduce if not put an end to unilateral invasion of one country by another. It would have been impossible for the United States of America and United Kingdom to lead their allied forces in the invasion of Iraq without the backing of the United Nations Organization. If the war was waged by the world body, rather than a few states led by America, peace would have since returned to that state. Other Middle East countries as Iran, Syria and Egypt would have played more active roles before and after Saddam’s downfall as part of a United Global force.

The very notion of respectability as it affects sovereign states presupposes the false premise that every state under all kinds of leadership will conform to the minimum standard of governance. History has falsified this assumption and human nature runs counter to it. It is absolutely illogical and we must disrespect sovereign states whose leaders make life unbearable for their people. We should not just stop at that, the world must begin to intervene directly in order to put an end to man’s inhumanity to man under any guise.

Man by his nature has the tendency to display moral rectitude in the governance of a people just as he also has the capacity to visit evil on those subjects. This is the reality as evidently proven by human experience. It is totally wrong to remain passive when a human being decides to become anti-social such that the lives of others become consumed by his or her actions.

This explains why laws are formulated to deal with all anti social behaviour such that there will be punishment against offenders and to serve as deterrence against actions deemed inhuman and unwarranted.

It is instructive to note the danger, which consistently looms in world politics at present. The United States of America by virtue of its super power status continue to dictate and influence global order with her allies. The world is therefore becoming a reflection of American leaders’ judgment, weaknesses and strengths. When for instance, George Walker Bush attacked Iraq after 9/11, he immediately impacted negatively on the entire Middle East stability. The world was changed without the United Nations active role, yet the body is still recognized as the arbiter in global politics. Tension and multilateral distrust exist among states because there is no global body charged with an unbiased assessment and control of governments’ actions as it relates to their citizens or those of other states.

The lame duck of the UNO will be radically transformed once a body as SUNIC is charged with the responsibility of identifying states where an intervention is needed. The tension and distrust, which usually arises when states take unilateral actions, will naturally be a thing of the past.

Some would argue that the Security Council of the United Nations already plays the role of the proposed SUNIC. Unfortunately, that body is highly politicised as the limited member states gauge issues as it affects their individual interests. The collective interest of global human development is always relegated to the background as member states engage one another in diplomatic jigsaw. The result is delay in reaching a decision over the crisis in Darfur and non intervention in Rwanda for instance while millions of lives were snuffed out. It is noteworthy that China most often than not prefers a non committal approach in exercising her votes during Council meetings.

Nevertheless, whereas the Security Council is populated by government apparatchiks, SUNIC should be constituted by Human rights bodies, Nobel laureates for peace, respected statesmen and revered ex world leaders. The body must be divested from any government patronage or influence. Members are to be appointed by the General Assembly to represent the different regions of the world.

It is very essential that this body’s recommendation is binding on the Security Council, which must then take a definitive action against any erring sovereign state notwithstanding whether she belongs to the United Nations or not.

The world will be spared the prevailing partisan approach usually employed by the Security Council in determining where an intervention is needed and the timing for such an intervention. It will be the responsibility of SUNIC to set a timeline for any recommended intervention.

The intervention must be through direct negotiation with the Country’s government and this negotiation period must not exceed two weeks. Where an erring government fails to heed the advice of SUNIC, the military option must then be invoked without further delay.

It is very distasteful to watch the United Nations Organization despatch its Special Representatives to repressive states to negotiate with them on the need to either refrain from dehumanizing acts or to take democratic steps only for the UNO to be spurned afterwards.

For instance, Ibrahim Gambari made several visits to Myanmar where he kept ‘begging’ the junta to embrace democracy. The junta has confined Suu Kyi (a leading democratic exponent) in her home for 12 of the last 18 years. Her latest house arrest began in 2003 and has been renewed annually for the last five years.

The actions of the government after his visit were most demeaning. The government continued to clamp down on members of opposition and protesters. It carried out a referendum at a time the people where in national mourning after a cyclone killed thousands of people. The referendum itself was conducted without any observance by any international observer group.

Not surprisingly, over 92 per cent votes was claimed by the junta to be in its support and as a further slap on the UNO, the democratic torch bearer Aung San Suu Kyi now has her house detention extended. The question then is what did Ibrahim Gambari achieve?

The world should move beyond pleading with leaders who remain irrational and oppressive to taking corrective actions against them, towards ending their gross misrule. Suppose this has been the case, many millions would not have perished in Rwanda, Nelson Mandela would not have wasted all those years at Robben Island and Moshood Abiola would not have died just because he contested and won a Presidential election in Nigeria.

Finally, as Europe and America always seem to only react through NATO in intervening in places like Bosnia, Afghanistan and other regions which they consider of great interest to them, the African Union should also consider a similar body.

This is more imperative considering the fact that African leaders have a propensity to oppress their people. The AU must in the least constitute a regional body, charged with the responsibility of identifying states where direct intervention is needed to effect regime change before helping those states to fully democratize.

It is sad that governments now seem to have perfected the inordinate rigging of elections when it is clear that they have lost as in Zimbabwe and Kenya recently. This if not checked will lead to colossal waste of human lives in the continent.

An African Intervention Force (AIF) must be formed to deal with this issue at the regional level on the advice of a body similar to the proposed SUNIC. We just cannot fold our arms while rulers do what they like to their subjects simply because we want to respect a country’s sovereignty. This argument has outlived its usefulness, no longer tenable and to say the least, a tacit authorization to bad rulers, to act arbitrarily.

The blood of the millions of people who would have been saved from the hands of their oppressive governments will always be on the heads of not just the perpetrators but also on the heads of those leaders in other states who refused to act or who acted belatedly. The time to take definitive steps as a checkmate against wanton killings and oppressive rulers is now.


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Last Updated ( May 29, 2008 at 09:18 PM )
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