Human Rights Take Priority Over States’ Rights Essay

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Eight hundred thousand Tutsis were killed in just one hundred days, and the world watched some of the most graphic footage seen since the Holocaust. People could not pull away from their television sets, unable to believe it was happening. “Never again,” they had pledged, and yet, here it was in 1994. As the Hutus enacted a massive genocide, attempting to eliminate the Tutsi minority from Rwanda, the world did nothing. The United Nations stalled while the United States refused to have another failure as in Somalia where three American peacekeeping soldiers were dragged through the streets. Belgium was already pulling its peacekeeping troops from the state. The Tutsis’ human rights were clearly being violated. Why did no state intervene and…show more content…
This paper will explain and critique the position of each group in order to prove that humanitarian intervention should happen.


The humanitarian intervention debate is not a new one, but it has received more attention recently, mainly because of the Clinton Administration’s continual call for humanitarian intervention. In 1648, the Treaty of Westphalia was signed by all of the continental European powers, in which they agreed that cuius regio, eius religi—the state’s ruler decides the state’s religion—but in effect, the states were agreeing that each state had full control of the happenings inside its borders (“Why and When”). This treaty created the idea of sovereignty. The notion of sovereignty merged with the idea of a just war, as described in their books by Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Hugo Grotius. Each man tried to define when one would be legitimate in declaring war. In most cases, the only legitimate reason for declaring war was self-defense or to “right a wrong.” Humanitarian intervention falls into this last category. Can one state right a domestic wrong of another state? Many philosophers attempted to determine whether sovereignty did indeed grant rulers the right to do whatever they wanted without any repercussions. For a while, humanitarian intervention was placed on the back burner when the Cold War began, as neither East nor West wanted to interfere with the other’s internal affairs and possibly initiate a nuclear
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