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UN must protect human rights

Column by Alec Hamilton

AlecHamilton-w2000-h2000At the onset, let me state that I am not advocating against any sort of humanitarian intervention whatsoever.

Instead, I argue that the U.S. should not intervene militarily or with harsh economic sanctions unless it’s the direst of circumstances.

In today’s world, international institutions and law are increasing their power and relevance rapidly.

Gone are the days when a single country should intervene in another sovereign country’s affairs unless in the case of genocide or if that country’s own citizens are at risk.

The United Nations was founded to not only solve disputes between member countries peacefully, but also to act as a vessel of humanitarian aid.

If the U.N. wants the world to refrain from conflict and to solve its problems through the U.N., it must also take on the burden to act in cases where countries are violating the rights of its citizens.

The U.N. must become the protector of human rights. It must act quickly and efficiently when the need to intervene arises.

The same can be said in the case of regional groups such as the European Union and the Arab League.

If such a humanitarian situation as Syria or Rwanda took place in Europe, or now in the Middle East, then such entities must be prepared to act not only in the interests of the citizens in harm, but also to protect their own countries.

Whenever the U.S. acts unilaterally and takes any sort of action against a country, there is an immediate international outcry about the U.S. “acting as the world police” or cries of imperialism.

Yet the U.S. is also lambasted when it does not intervene right away in cases that the international community believes it should.

This cannot continue, and a direction must be chosen.

With the rise of new powers on the world stage and the increasing prevalence of international institutions, the U.S. should rely upon the U.N. and other countries to act and step back from intervention.  The international community cannot have it both ways.

Lastly, the U.S. cannot be the only bastion for human rights in the world.

Similar to its reputation as “world police,” the U.S. also has a reputation for being the world’s foremost advocate for human rights and is not afraid to take actions to enforce them.

However, once again, where is the U.N.?  Why is the world relying upon one country, and not a diplomatic/humanitarian organization made up of hundreds of countries, to intervene and enforce human rights?  No longer should the U.S. receive a bad reputation for doing the duties of the U.N.

Now, despite all of the above, once a situation reaches drastic levels, the U.S. must act on its principles and the will of the American public.

If that means intervention, so be it.  However, the U.S. must then be prepared for ridicule once again.

Also, all of the above applies for countries throughout the world.  The same consequences will apply for intervention or non-intervention for Russia, China or anyone else.

Hamilton is a senior international relations and news-Internet double major and can be reached at alec.hamilton@drake.edu



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