Uncertainty can be happiness

"Security is a false god," or running around the world as an FSO

The boundaries of sovereignity

Posted by quirksalight on December 11, 2006

John Locke termed the idea of a social contract between individuals as the implicit agreement underlying the legitimacy of a government. If the this is fractured though the abuse of a group of individuals by another, when does the legitmacy of the nation-state become obsolete? And then if the government running the nation-state in question is obsolete, does this justify the action of an outside body to intervene? Or is internal action the only justifiable form of intervention?

This has been stuck in my head for a while, listening/reading about the gradual escalation in the Darfur region of Sudan over the past couple of months. The latest report from the BBC (yes, it’s one of the more “liberal” avenues of news) was discussion the systemic use of rape as a tactical method in the conflict. As a military tool for spreading fear and chaos, it is unfortunately, a very effective one. Villiage raids keep the opposing forces on alert, and the people affected the greatest are the ones who are valued least in a patriarchal society; the women. It also has the effect of demoralizing the populations being attacked; the “protectors” and “head of households” were helpless in protecting those who were their duty to protect.
The effects on the food production of the population are also staggering. Women and children can’t or won’t go out to the fields due to fear of future attacks; the female children are raped and the male children are killed in these attacks. Men are either dead, injured, or in countermilitas in an attempt to repel these attacks. Which then causes a societal spiral downward into ever decresing food stores, famine, and then starvation.

So where does this leave the population, and also, us? In the past century, the rise of the humanitarian and multi-national interventions have come into being. Interventions to counter famine and epidemics are now the norm, rather than the exception. (Counter, as apparently “prevention” is just not sexy enough to draw attention and aid) And these interventions are usually done as the governing body of the nation-state in question is requesting, or when offered, accepting the aid, as they were not able to prevent or solve the crisis in question.
Sudan, the nation-state in question, is refusing most aid. They do not want peacekeeper , even though the force that is on the ground is stating that they need additional troops to help decrease the violence on the ground. The government has been documented as stating the effects of violence is low, even as NGO in the region are showing documentation of the numbers of deaths, rapes, refugees due to the violence in far greater numbers. Those NGOs and citizens who reported these alternate number were then subjected to reprisal by the Sudanese government, the former being thrown out of the country (Doctors without Borders being one of them) and the latter subjected to rape and death.
So what do we do? Sit back and watch? When does sovereignity end?????

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