Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Refugees as the 'Other-ed'

“The latest figures available show that the number of refugees of   concern to UNHCR stood at 10.5 million refugees at the beginning of 2011”, UNHCHR Website.[1]

For many people living in the industrialized world such as Australia, the statistics above can be unsettling. Firstly, refugees are often seen as a ‘disturbance’ to order and sovereignty. Secondly, refugees who are ‘different‘ are seen not only as a disturbance but also as a threat to host country’s national interests.

Scholars such as Emma Haddad believe refugees are perceived to be a challenge to the sovereignty of state, which is thought as the main guarantor of order and ‘our’ way of life vis-a-vis other peoples’ ways of life.[2] She also argues that the fear of this ‘floating’ people is based on the idea that refugees upset the pattern of certainty within the ‘citizen-state-territory trinity’ that our modern state system has afforded.[3]

It is important to note that this notion of state sovereignty and territorial integrity only became the dominant discourse after the Westphalia Treaties in 1648.[4] The Westphalia Treaties marked the shift from Respublica Christiana to a system of ‘separate, sovereign states’.[5] Semi autonomous empires with multiple identities and porous borders governed under a ‘universal’ papacy was replaced by a system of secular, sovereign states without a supranational authority to oversee them.[6] While in the old system religions bound different peoples together, in the new system it is generally the secular national vision of a state that determines who belongs to a state and who does not.[7]

Haddad uses France as an example.[8] France is imagined as a state for those who share the vision of liberte, egalite, and fraternite.[9] Those who come from outside France’s territory are assumed to have a different vision and, therefore, ‘other-ed’.[10] In this in this context, refugees fits this notion of ‘others’ since they are not from within the confines of French borders and, therefore, presumed to be different from normal French citizens in they way they think, behave, and act.   Haddad posits that this reification of refugees as others vs the ‘normal’ citizens of the host country serves to help host state assert their sovereignty and reinforce this ‘imagined’ national identity.[11] Haddad, therefore, establishes that instead of constituting an aberration, refugees are an integral component of our modern state system.[12]

Haddad’s analysis is useful to explain why many countries are reluctant to welcome refugees. However, since Haddad’s thesis depicts refugees and host states in a hostile relationship, it is difficult to explain why certain refugees are more welcomed than others. White Zimbabwean refugees in Australia, for example, were not necessarily treated with the same suspicions and hostility in comparison with Afghan refugees.[13] Similarly, in Australia, there seems to be no brouhaha about visa overstayers who, mostly, come from other Western countries such as the UK and the US.[14] Perhaps, this is because they are seen to come from the same ‘civilization’ and, therefore, assumed to have traits like Australians or, at least, compatible with the constructed identity of the Australian society. On the other hand, Afghan refugees are seen not only as different but also dangerous. Thanks to the global war on terror and the history of jihad and crusade between Islam Middle East and the Christian West, the Afghans are one of those peoples seen by many in the West as the enemy. This suggests that it might not be the ‘refugees’ status per se that constitutes the main problem. Instead, in Australia’s case especially, it can be the demographics and sociopolitical tags attached to the refugees which primarily shape the responses of the Australian public and policies of the host state.

Indeed, the differences between refugees and the mainstream Australian public is one of the key defining features of the Australian refugee discourse. Gelber and Mcdonald argue that recent asylum seekers in Australia are often represented as possessing different values and characters from the Australian people.[15]In the Children Overboard Affair, asylum seekers were depicted as morally bankrupt illegals who would even throw their own children onto water to be rescued and given access to Australia.[16] This is juxtaposed against the image of Australians who believe in rule of law, fairness, and democracy.[17] In this case, it seems to matter little to many Australians that an inquiry found the narrative used in the Children Overboard Affairs to be untrue.[18] All of these factors are often ignored and everything boils down to the idea of ‘those uncivilized boat people’ vs ‘us, civilized Australians’.

Once the wall is erected, it becomes possible for the government to justify its harsh treatment of asylum seekers and deflect any criticisms regarding its failure to uphold international human rights norms on refugees and asylum seekers.[19] In fact, the Howard government, then, was able to use rhetoric on ‘exclusive’ state sovereignty to garner further political support and justify its policies on asylum seekers.[20] This ‘exclusive’ sovereignty means the right to exclude those who are, essentially, unwanted.[21] In this case, those are asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka mainly. It also means the right of the Australian government to implement this policy without outside intervention.[22] Against the backdrop of this ‘exclusive’ sovereignty, criticisms from international and domestic human rights organizations were dismissed as trivial ‘feel good’ matters in comparison to fulfilling ‘real’ Australia’s national interests.[23] By this stage, sovereignty and fulfilling national interests had become a concept that were left unchallenged while ethical consideration was seen to be relevant only for the ‘ideologues and the naive’.[24]

I support Gelber and McDonald in problematizing Howard regime’s interpretation of sovereignty. Although understandable within the logics of pluralist English school, the problem with this interpretation of sovereignty is that it does not take realities into account. Sovereignty, in real international politics, is not absolute. The Australian government insisted on absolute sovereignty for its own territory yet it has been engaged in breaching the sovereignty of other countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. If an argument can be made to support this type of obvious abrogation of sovereignty, the same argument can surely be made to support Australia’s international human rights obligations to process all asylums seekers regardless of their mode of arrival or nationalities. This is even more so in the latter case because the Australian government has voluntarily agreed to sign the Refugee Convention.  In principle, this means that it has voluntarily surrendered some of its sovereignty to the international society. This does not have to be seen as a negative thing. By relegating some of its sovereignty to the international society especially in relations to refugees, the Australian government contributes to the international order and stability of which it also enjoys. It also contributes to the image of Australia as a responsible player in the international system which, in turn, will boost Australia’s diplomatic influence at the global level.


De Almeida, J.M.,  ‘the Peace of Westphalia and the Idea of Respublica Christiana’, IPRI, viewed on 26 March 2012,

Gelber, K., and McDonald, M., ‘Ethics and Exclusion: Representations of Sovereignty in Australia’s Approach to Asylum-Seekers’, Review of International Studies, Vol. 32, No. 2, April 2006, pp. 269 - 289.

Haddad, E., ‘The Refugee: The Individual between Sovereigns’, Global Society, Vol. 17, No. 3,
July, 2003, pp. 297 - 322.

Mickelburough, P., ‘Taxpayers Wear Burden of 60,000 Illegal Immigrants’, Herald Sun, viewed on 26 March 2012,

Anonymous, ‘Refugee Figures’, UNHCR, viewed on 26 March 2012,

Anonymous, ‘Timeline: Tampa to Children Overboard’, ABC TV Blog, viewed on 26 March 2012,

 Anonymous, ‘Zimbabwe Crisis Exposes Refugee Hypocrisy’, the Green Left, viewed on 26 March 2012,

[1] Anonymous, ‘Refugee Figures’, UNHCR, viewed on 26 March 2012,
[2] E. Haddad, ‘The Refugee: The Individual between Sovereigns’, Global Society, Vol. 17, No. 3, July, 2003, pp. 297 - 305.
[3] Ibid., p. 298.
[4] Ibid., p. 300.
[5] Ibid., pp. 300 - 302.
[6] J.M De Almeida, ‘the Peace of Westphalia and the Idea of Respublica Christiana’, IPRI, viewed on 26 March 2012,
[7] Haddad, p. 304.
[8] Ibid., p. 304.
[9] Ibid., p. 304.
[10] Ibid., p. 304.
[11] Ibid., p. 298.
[12] Ibid., p. 298.
[13] Anonymous, ‘Zimbabwe Crisis Exposes Refugee Hypocrisy’, the Green Left, viewed on 26 March 2012,
[14] P. Mickelburough, ‘Taxpayers Wear Burden of 60,000 Illegal Immigrants’, Herald Sun, viewed on 26 March 2012,
[15] Haddad, p. 298.
[16] Anonymous, ‘Timeline: Tampa to Children Overboard’, ABC TV Blog, viewed on 26 March 2012,
[17] K. Gelber and M. McDonald, ‘Ethics and Exclusion: Representations of Sovereignty in Australia’s Approach to Asylum-Seekers’, Review of International Studies, Vol. 32, No. 2, April 2006, p. 282.
[18] Ibid., p. 282.
[19] Ibid., pp. 284.
[20] Ibid., pp. 282 - 284.
[21] Ibid. pp. 270 - 274.
[22] Ibid., p. 271.
[23] Ibid., pp. 280 - 281.
[24] Ibid., pp. 280 - 281. 

Economic Growth, Development, and Human Rights in Indonesia

There has been a sudden outburst of optimism about Indonesia’s economic performance in recent time. The Financial Times article here ( an example of this celebratory media remark. In ‘Indonesia: Regional Economic Boom’, Deutsch and Sender echo many other journalists in praising Indonesia as ‘one of the world’s great unsung growth stories’. They applaud the expansion of this economic bonanza to the regional areas that previously were not part of the growth zones. Balikpapan in East Kalimantan, for example, has become a new epicentre of growth due to its booming coal mining industry. Despite their sanguine interpretation,  Deutsch and Sender also, rightly, point out a few key issues that are still hampering Indonesia’s economic development. These issues are mainly internal problems such as corruption, weak institutions, uncompetitive manufacturing sector, infrastructures, and bureaucratic nightmares.

This, nonetheless, still presents us with an incomplete picture. The article, indeed, has a tendency to overemphasize internal problems while ignoring external problems such as inequalities within the global economic structure. Amplifying the concern of many dependency theorists, who believe that unfair politico-economic relationship takes place between the core and periphery, Sikka in ‘Accounting for Human Rights: the Challenge of Globalization and Foreign Investment Agreements’ contends that many multinational corporations in this neoliberal climate are more powerful than governments in the developing world. Since the global economic system is fluid and multinational companies with their economic prowess can transcend national borders, these companies can dictate states on their domestic policies, especially in relations to taxes, health and safety standards, labour rights, profit-sharing, and so on. The shift from serving the interests of its citizens to serving the interests of wealthy international corporations is a dangerous move, not only for the citizens of the country but also for the government whose legitimacy depends on the popular support of the public and the large businesses whose operation is contingent on sociopolitical stability.

To counterbalance the influence of these companies and fulfill its obligations to the Indonesian public, the government needs to play a more proactive role, especially in relations to domestic policies that affect the public in Indonesia. This means engaging with multinational corporations without joining the race to the bottom. This can be done by: building and enforcing solid legal frameworks to protect the people from potential and real development-related human rights abuses;  capitalising on this commodity boom to create more sophisticated and diversified economic activities; building strong accountability within their own institutions to create clean and reliable governance; ensuring a more equitable resource distribution from the commodity boom and invest the money in the communities. 

However, these can be difficult to realise. Just like the article by Deutsch and Sender above, many in the policy-making roles still simplistically equate growth with development and, therefore, justify a pro-big business, trickle-down development approach. This misconception reflects the power of buzzwords as described by Karen and Brock in their essay ‘Beyond Buzzwords: “Poverty Reduction”, “Participation” and “Empowerment” in Development Policy’. They have warned us about the political nature of every term in development discourse. Each term frames the problem in certain ways and, thus, influences the policy outcomes which tend to benefit some people more than others. The term economic growth and development are not exceptions. Although it is true that economic growth is crucial for development, the two terms are not synonymous. 

Growth is about capital accumulation through the market. The market does not take externalities into account. The market only rewards those who have access to the means of production. The wealthy owners of the mining companies, the contractors, and bureaucrats who can approve the contracts are those who tend to benefit from commodities boom. Those with limited access to the means of production are only ‘incidentally’ benefiting from this economic boom if not becoming the victims. In the case of Mesuji in Sumatra, for instance, the economic interests of a powerful plantation company clashed with the interests of the local community. This resulted in vertical conflicts between state apparatus, which sided with the powerful business, and local people who were disenfranchised by this company. The result of this was a litany of human rights abuses. Gruesome stories of killings, torture, and riots spread like a wild fire. This is growth as far as it can go. It does not require us to question the existing power structure. Nor does it problematise poverty, inequalities, and power abuses by the powerful against the marginalised -- except when these problems eventually cancel all the benefits of growth in riots and social revolutions. 

Development (especially one that is based on a human rights approach), on the other hand, is much more comprehensive and long-term. It is about progress in economic, social, political, and cultural sphere. The purpose of development is the empowerment, liberation, and emancipation of humanity instead of capital accumulation as the end in itself. Hence, it is not only about the outcome but also about the process. Under this premise, condoning or ignoring human rights abuse in the name of growth is no longer justifiable. Legal provisions which marginalise, discriminate, and alienate certain groups of people and preclude them from enjoying the benefits of development on an equal basis with others have to be removed. The community, through meaningful consultations led by the government, should be actively involved in the decision-making process that shapes their lives. In terms of outcomes, development should be about economic empowerment for the people through resources redistribution. Taxes from the commodity boom should be invested in the communities through education, healthcare, infrastructure, micro loans, social welfare program, and so on. The wider community should enjoy the fruits of economic growth without feeling alienated by the big businesses. 

In summary, development is a process and a purpose. Growth is an indispensable element of development but should not be treated as the end goal in itself. Bringing this understanding into policy is, certainly, not an easy option. It requires a change in the way we think. Bureaucratic and economic elites have to resist short-term gratification that can be obtained through pro-big business approach. Also, at the global stage, governments from around the world need to work together to set up a minimum standard of operation for transnational economic entities. This standard should enable them to become more accountable and ethical. Although difficult, shifting to a human-rights approach of development is in the long-term interest of all parties. A proper development process produces a stable, prosperous, and productive society. Therefore, let us do what is right, not what is easy. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Introduction to the Philosophy of Human Rights

What are the foundations of human rights and what should be considered as human rights? These are two central questions that have caused fierce debates since the Enlightenment period in Europe began. 

For Hobbes and Kant, the foundation of human rights is social contract. For Hobbes this social contract is a natural consequence of the natural law. He began his analysis by describing humans as rational and self-interested. All humans are motivated by the desire to ‘obtain satisfaction and avoid harm’. This desire is coupled with the fact that ‘nature hath made men so equal, in the faculties of the body and mind’ which makes it problematic when two people want to obtain the same thing as they cannot both enjoy. In the pre-political ‘state of nature’, everyone fights over limited resources and given that there is no central authority to mediate between these conflicting interests, only the law of nature applies.The law of nature is the rule for every human’s survival. One should do what keeps him alive and should avoid taking actions that can compromise his survival. The law of nature, hence, endows humans with absolute liberties although these can be taken away arbitrarily at any moment by others.

Consequentially, all individuals will long for peace. To achieve this, individuals would agree to surrender some of their natural rights in a hope that others would do the same and, eventually, they will receive goods and other forms of rights in exchange.This is the social contract. This contract will be enshrined in the covenants enforced by a central authority which is trusted with the mandate to punish those who break these laws. For Hobbes, this central authority has to be absolute sovereign or ‘mortal God’ in order for peace and order to be maintained.

Hobbes, indeed, gave us a useful account of how civil rights emerged but he did not specify what kind of rights should be considered human rights and, thus, guaranteed by state to its subjects. Kant’s Categorical Imperative, in this context, can be useful. Kant shares his view with Hobbes on humans as rational creatures although he would not agree with Hobbes on simplistically depicting human beings as selfish, power-hungry animals that lack the essential attributes of a higher moral being. For Kant, each person has some inherent characteristics that allow him or her to be ‘humane’. These include ‘intrinsic freedom, equality, autonomy, and dignity’, without which humanity will lose its meaning. The Kantian social contract is predicated on the preservation of this humanity complex.

Through this social contract, the state is expected to uphold the rights of every individual based on liberty, equality, and independence. In turn, every individual also has the obligation to respect the rights of everyone else and the rule of law within that state. This sense of obligation determines whether an action is right or not. An action is right if it is done out of goodwill because it does not involve a desire nor a consequence of that action but is purely done on a basis of what we ought to and can do as a moral being. This is what Kant calls the ‘Categorical Imperative’. It consists of, at least, two principles. The first principle is ‘act only on that maxim which you can at the same time will that it should be a universal law’. The second one is to treat humanity as the end in itself and not merely as means of something else.

Let us take freedom of speech for example. If freedom of speech is made as a universal principle, would every person, including, us want it? Can it be implemented universally? To use the second principle, does freedom of speech cause humanity to be treated as a means of something else or does it contribute to humanity as an end goal? We can confidently say that freedom of speech is desired by every rational person as anyone who is rational has free wills and opinions. To be able to express these wills and opinions they need freedom of speech. We can also say that freedom of speech contributes directly to the idea of humanity since freedom of speech corresponds to the concept of human beings as having ‘intrinsic freedom, equality, autonomy, and dignity’. Therefore, based on Kant’s Categorical Imperative, freedom of speech is right and every human should be afforded this human right. For Kant, this is the formula that we can use to determine what should be considered as human rights. 

Jeremy Bentham, however, would disagree with Kant on grounding rights on such a moral framework. Similar to Kant and Hobbes, Bentham believes that human beings are rational. Echoing Hobbes’ idea, they seek to avoid pain and maximize pleasure. Right actions maximize pleasure and minimise pain whilst wrong actions reduce pleasure and cause pain. To him the role of state is to fulfill and promote the happiness or pleasure of as many individuals as possible.

Therefore, for Bentham, what constitute human rights are those that benefit the majority of the people. If the majority of the people think freedom of speech is detrimental, Bentham would argue that freedom of speech should not be seen as a human right. Bentham would also disagree with Kant and Hobbes regarding social contract as the basis for human rights. He disagrees with the idea of ‘pre-political state of nature’, which depicts each individual human to be born free. For him, none of us is born free as we are all immediately part of a social context once we are born. He uses the example of a helpless child who is subjected to his parents and someone who is born as a slave. The state of nature for Bentham is only imaginary and, therefore, natural law and natural rights are only ‘nonsense upon stilts’. For Bentham, the only valid basis for justice and rights are positive laws founded upon rational utilitarian spirit, not some airy fairy moral philosophy. Since only government can make laws, therefore, he believes that rights only exist after government. Believing that rights exist before government can be dangerous as that would mean government’s laws can be ‘wrong’ or ‘unjust’ and people can refuse to abide by these laws.

In critically evaluating all those claims above, below is my analysis on each of them. 

Hobbes’ account is logically coherent and powerful. However, it can be seen as too pessimistic. His characterization of human nature as selfish to the extent of ‘predatory’ seems to ignore other important characteristics of human beings such as conscience and compassion, which define us as ‘human’ instead of merely political animals. If, indeed, we are rational but also, intuitively, compassionate and conscientious, it begs a question whether the perpetual state of war would still occur in the state of nature and whether such an absolutist form of government is needed to ensure our peace. Such a conceptualization of government can also be used to justify an authoritarian form of government which can ensure ‘peace’ only at the cost of continuous repression of its own people. Therefore, Hobbesian vision of government does not sound too inspiring when we are talking about the preservation of human rights. 

Kantian concept of right is an interesting but contradictory one. Based on Kantian ethics, some would argue that the right to life is an absolute human right which should not be compromised since everyone, universally, would want the right to life and life is the most fundamental basis for humanity. Without life, all of other rights become meaningless and without guaranteeing the right to life to everyone, humanity can descend into chaos as killing can be permissible. What about sanctioned killing such as death penalty then? It is arguable that death penalty is appropriate especially for those who have committed a genocide or terror acts and killed hundreds of people. In this case, some would argue that they have stripped away their own humanity through their heinous actions so that they deserve the capital punishment. Capital punishment can also be seen as a way to provide justice to victims and a deterrent to other would-be criminals thus guaranteeing the right to life of other people, who otherwise would have become victims of other genocides or terror acts. Hence, consistent with Kantian logics, death penalty can help us to preserve our humanity and, hence, justifiable. Nonetheless, some will insist these criminals’ right to life is inviolable. Trying to ‘preserve’ humanity by inflicting violent, degrading and inhumane punishment is inconsistent with the spirit of humanism that Kantian ethics suggests. It now appears that the moral framework suggested by Kant is also fraught with perplexing inconsistencies.

Bentham’s argument is a useful reminder for us to ground human rights on laws to produce better accountability and enforcement. However, I found his strict attachment to legal positivism troubling. State is not an autonomous, higher moral apparatus divorced from the people. State is made up of the people in society, not higher spiritual beings, and those people who make laws often have their own interests and views on how their society should be organized and how it should work. Therefore, not all laws created are necessarily compatible with what we call as the inherent dignity of human persons and justice. In fact, some laws lead to blatant violations of human rights, e.g: laws that support the slavery of the black people in the US. Bentham’s account would justify slavery of the black people in the US as long as it benefit the majority of Americans. However, we know that subjecting people to racial discrimination and slavery is wrong. Firstly, no one can choose their skin color. Racism is a form of bigotry that ignores this simple fact. Slavery takes away the inherent dignity of those people who are treated as ‘lower’ and reduces the slave owners to egotistical immoral beings whose happiness depends on other people’s oppression. Bentham’s utilitarian legal positivism can, precisely, legalizes and encourages oppression and human wrongs by the majority. 


Hayden, P. (ed.), the Philosophy of Human Rights. Paragon House, St. Paul, 2001. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Responsibility to Protect: To Intervene or Not To Intervene?
‘We would fight not for the political future of a distant city, rather for principles whose destruction would ruin the possibility of peace and security for the peoples of the earth’.

From Rwanda to Kosovo and now Libya and Syria, the question on whether or not the international community has a responsibility to protect citizens from the brutality of their states has become one of the most explosive debates in international relations. Those who believe in ‘humanitarian intervention’ often argue that it is a moral imperative to stop atrocities committed by states towards their own citizens. In their views, not only it is morally wrong to ignore gross human rights abuses going on in the other parts of the world, it is also naive to believe that genocide in other countries have no impact on others. The opposite side of the story points out how humanitarian as a term has been used as a moral garment to ignore ‘collateral damages’ and shroud imperialist agenda of the powerful countries. In their eyes, humanitarian intervention does more harm than good.

This essay aims to introduce readers to the complexities of humanitarian intervention. The first part of the essay will define what is meant by ‘the Responsibility to Protect’, its history, and the place of humanitarian intervention within this doctrine. The second part of the essay will highlight the claims made by the proponents of the humanitarian intervention. The third part of the essay will feature some of the arguments made by those who are skeptical about humanitarian intervention. The last part of the essay will critically analyze the claims from both sides. It will be clear by the end of the essay that the international community does have a moral and political obligation to protect citizens from gross human rights abuses committed by their states. In saying so, however, it will be shown that translating this concept into practice is fraught with complex difficulties and plenty of space for improvements. 
The Responsibility to Protect and humanitarian Intervention: An Overview 
In 1994, Rwanda underwent one of the most violent periods in its history. It was estimated that 800,000 people were killed as ethnic Hutus embarked on a campaign to exterminate ethnic Tutsis in the country. The international community was aware of what went on. Yet, they chose to take the path of inaction. In the year after, 7000 men and boys in the town of Srebrenica were butchered by Bosnian Serb forces. Again, the world only watched helplessly in horror as this event unfolded. In the aftermath of these two events, the international community learned that it is morally and politically indefensible to ignore gross human rights abuses such as genocide and ethnic cleansing even if these happen in far away lands. The moral outrage from these stories eventually culminated in the 2005 World Summit where the term ‘the Responsibility to Protect’ or the so-called ‘R2P’ was coined. The term was evoked for the first time in March last year when the UN Security Council came up with Resolution 1973 to condemn Qaddafi in Libya and impose a no-fly zone in the country.
R2P is a guiding principle which stipulates that state has the primary responsibility to protect its citizens from ‘avoidable catastrophe’ such as starvation, genocide, mass rape, ethnic cleansing, and crime against humanities. Where a state is unable or unwilling to fulfill this responsibility to its own citizens, the international community has to assume this responsibility. R2P consists of three types of responsibilities: the responsibility to prevent, the responsibility to react, and the responsibility to rebuild. The responsibility to prevent entails addressing ‘both the root causes and direct causes of internal conflict and other man-made crises putting population at risk’.

The responsibility to react means responding ‘to situations of compelling human need with appropriate measures’. This may include sanctions, international prosecution, and military intervention. The responsibility to rebuild include post-conflict recovery, reconstruction, and reconciliation to address the causes of the conflict that the intervention responded to. It is often stressed that prevention is the most important part of R2P doctrine and that military intervention should be considered as the last option. However, in this essay, the focus will be on military intervention for these humanitarian reasons. 
It is worth quickly exploring some of the principles of R2P with regards to humanitarian intervention. First, a military intervention must be based on a just cause, such as a large scale loss of life or ethnic cleansing. Second it must be based on the precautionary principles: right intention (the intervention ‘must be to halt or avert human sufferings’); it is used as the last resort after non-military options have been seriously explored; it must be done using proportional means; there needs to be a reasonable prospect of success in halting or averting human sufferings. Third, it must be undertaken or authorized by the right authority. In general, this refers to the UN Security Council. Fourth, it must follow operational principles, such as clear objectives, mandate, and so on.
Pro-Intervention Arguments 
The topic of humanitarian intervention is not new. Ancient philosophers such as St. Augustine has already grappled with the issue since his time in the 4th and 5th century. According to him, a war can be waged if the intention is to attain peace. He also believed that states reserve the right to use military option in defense of innocent victims of violent repression or to prevent human catastrophe. Some thinkers, in fact, believe that it is not only a right but a responsibility for the international community to protect citizens from gross human rights abuses by their state.
This idea of moral responsibility is often related to the so-called liberal cosmopolitan approach. This theory posits that it is first and foremost the individuals who possess certain inalienable rights. Immanuel Kant argued that every individual has pre-political rights. Every individual person surrender some of these pre-political rights to a state in exchange for security and well-being, which are virtually impossible to secure in pre-political state of nature. Therefore, the very moral basis of state sovereignty is a state’s ability to protect its people from danger. When a state is unwilling or unable to guarantee protection to its people, the social contract underpinning its sovereignty is broken and, therefore, its sovereignty is forfeited. This is why the international community can and should ‘intervene’ when gross human rights abuses take place in a country where the government has neither the capacity nor the political will to stop these abuses. 
Another moral basis for humanitarian intervention is the idea that we are all implicated in conflicts and wars in other parts of the world -- even in places where it appears irrelevant to us. Internal wars that take place in ‘distant and unimportant regions‘ are usually fueled by arms and monetary transfers from the developed countries. For example, according to Amnesty International, 74 per cent of world’s weapons are supplied by rich countries, such as the US, Russia, Germany, the UK, China. These arms often go to irresponsible states or militant groups as currently there is no comprehensive international treaty to prevent the sales of arms that could be used to perpetrate serious human rights abuses. It is, therefore, morally unacceptable for the international community to pretend it has nothing to do with conflicts, genocide, and mass violence happening in a state even if it is isolated from the rest of the world.
Humanitarian intervention is also often a matter of practical and political necessity. From the flow of refugees to global terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking, and the spread of viral diseases, the destabilizing effects of internal conflicts within a state can reach other states far beyond its immediate neighbours. It is often in the interests of the international community to take firm actions when a state fails to protect its citizens from humanitarian calamities. This is in sync with the explanation offered by the school of realism. From the realist school’s perspective, states will pursue actions that fulfill its national interests. Humanitarian intervention can help states not only to isolate the destabilizing effects of internal conflicts or genocide happening in other states but also helping them to achieve what is termed ‘milieu goals’ -- ‘a realist case for restructuring a more orderly international system and paying attention to the requirements of leadership by a great power’. This means it is in the interest of every state to be perceived as a ‘credible’ player in the international system. To gain its credibility, it is important to be responsive to the needs of the international community.

Arguments of the Skeptics
The skeptics believe that the doctrine of responsibility to protect and its corresponding idea of humanitarian intervention has been used a smokescreen for waging a war without accountability. Burke argued that ‘the law of war is flawed and extremely difficult to enforce’.

Doctrines such as the just war theory or R2P is not followed by accountability mechanism to ensure states follow them and, as a result, observance to these doctrines is voluntary. Since it is voluntary and since it is branded as a humanitarian action, states can easily avoid being held accountable in cases where they create avoidable ‘collateral damages’. For example, in 2002 the US launched airstrikes in an attempt to defeat Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan. In doing so, the US forces caused many ‘collateral damages’, including the deaths of nearly 400 people in six ‘massacre sites’ and the bombing of Al-Jazeera office in Kabul. There was however no sanction whatsoever that the international community imposed on the US despite its failure to avoid these ‘unintentional’ disasters. 
The second reason behind skepticism on humanitarian intervention is the fact that the humanitarian banner is often used by powerful states to cover up their imperialist agenda. After all, there is virtually no war that has not been termed as humanitarian. Nazi Germany’s advancement into Poland and Czechoslovakia was couched in humanitarian language.
 Japan’s past invasions into Asia to ‘get rid of European imperialism’ was also subsumed under a humanitarian umbrella. So too were hundreds of other wars, such as the Iraq War today that was launched under the pretext of preventing ‘rogue’ states such as Iraq from threatening the world peace and stability with their Weapons of Mass Destruction. In Iraq case, it was a dubious case to begin with and it becomes increasingly difficult for the US government to justify the war in Iraq today. However, as pointed out earlier, there is no accountability mechanism to ‘right’ such cases especially when it is done by a hegemonic power such as the US. Another implication of humanitarian intervention, which is based on the interests of imperial powers, is a selective implementation of this doctrine. Some argue that the intervention in Libya was motivated, at least partly, by its rich natural resources. The fact that it was already a weak ‘rogue’ state made it an easy target. In comparison, it would be difficult to imagine a collective military action by the West to ‘save’ Tibet in China or West Papua in Indonesia.

Critiquing The Arguments and the Way Forward
The debate on humanitarian intervention within the doctrine of R2P is, perhaps, one of the most fascinating and dynamic topics in international relations because  the pro and contra side have an equally strong set of arguments. Unfortunately, this essay does not have the privilege of space to review all of them in details. Therefore, it will only focus on a few key arguments from both sides. 
The strength of the affirmative side lies on its ability to articulately reframe the concept of sovereignty. Sovereignty is not just taken as it is but analyzed to its conceptual roots. In their analysis, individual rights trump sovereignty because state would not exist without the political consent of the individuals that compose it. Thus, when a state has compromised the well-being, safety, and security of its citizens through its inability to halt an act of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and the likes, it can be said that such a state has undermined its own moral and political basis for existence. Also, sovereignty is important for a state because it is often assumed that state is the best protector of its citizens. Therefore, that state needs to be protected from foreign states or entities that are less credible in governing the citizens of that particular state. This is why sovereignty becomes important and why colonialism is frowned upon. Foreign governance is often seen a form of imposition, domination, and oppression. However, what difference does it make when a state torture, enslave, and massacre their own people? Would not it mean that such a state is not any better compared to foreign entities, anyway? In that case, it has no legitimacy to claim sovereignty to rule its people and be free from foreign intervention or interference. Therefore, the idea that the international community can and should intervene when citizens are severely harmed by their state remains a formidable argument and the idea that sovereignty should be preserved at all costs has no solid basis. 
However, as pointed out by Bellamy and Williams, this liberal cosmopolitan basis has weaknesses too. One of them is that such a conceptual understanding on sovereignty and individual rights is not empirically shared by the majority of people in our world today. For many leaders of developing countries, sovereignty is not couched in the metanarrative of the persecution of individuals by the Church and State, nor was it framed through the history of Westphalia treaties. Instead, it is couched in the history of bloody wars of liberation from colonial powers. Sovereignty was earned after hundreds of years of anti-colonial struggle. It is difficult for them to grapple with the idea of conditional sovereignty especially when the conditions are defined by the same powers that used to colonise them and abused the doctrine for their own selfish interests.  
The skeptics raise some valid points too. It is doubtful to what extent we can expect any substantial change when it comes to humanitarian intervention although we now have R2P.  It seems that in many cases, states follow their real interests first and use moral theories of war later to justify their decisions. Therefore, although much time and efforts have been put into developing moral guidance of war such as R2P, it might not go as far as we would like. This is especially true so long as there is no tangible, clear, and effective accountability mechanism at the international level to redress preventable abuses caused by states in the name of humanitarian intervention. Without real consequences, states would have no incentive to change their practices for the better.

Nonetheless, the skeptics’ side also has some shortcomings. The first is the idea that humanitarian intervention within R2P leads to the continuation of imperialism. Such a claim is misleading. It is undeniable that there is bias when it comes to humanitarian intervention. Powerful states tend to intervene in certain countries where they can get some forms of benefits. However, this is understandable if one understand how politics work. States which undertake military actions on humanitarian grounds must sacrifice their resources and their people for a war in a far away land with little direct relevance to many people living in those intervening states. It will be naive to expect that states would willingly sacrifice themselves for nothing.

At the ‘soft’ end of the interest calculus, state does not want to lose its prestige and at the opposite end of the interest, it might want access to resources. It is crucial to acknowledge that although states desire some benefits out of humanitarian wars, they do not always seek access to resources or fulfill their imperial interests through these wars. Moreover, just because the international community has ‘bias’ in choosing where to intervene, it does not mean that humanitarian intervention does not and cannot achieve good. In many cases, humanitarian intervention still save lives.
From this analysis, we can conclude that military intervention for humanitarian purposes is, largely, justifiable. However, it is obvious that there are still many issues surrounding its implementation. First, there is a need to create a clear, impartial, effective accountability mechanism at the international level to deter ‘unjust’ wars waged under the banner of humanitarianism and to preclude states from committing preventable damages during its humanitarian intervention. The challenge of this attempt is to avoid overcomplicating the accountability mechanism and set the threshold of intervention at the appropriate level.  Of course, the road to a genuine and universal consensus on this mechanism will be arduous. However, it is not impossible and it is worth the efforts if we want to move forward. Second, key actors within states need to be given the opportunity to learn and make sense R2P if we want to make the best use of this endeavor. Especially important to be taught is the idea of human rights and humanitarianism behind sovereignty. If we can successfully help states to understand and fulfill their moral and political responsibility to their citizens, there could be a hope for a world where there is less need for humanitarian intervention. Third, all of us are responsible for creating an environment where any form of intervention is less needed and where every state is free and empowered to fulfill the moral and political obligations it owes to their citizens. The developed world, due to its better resources and bigger influence, such should play the leadership role in helping its Third World neighbors through trade and aid while, at the same time, refrain from fueling instability in the Third World. 
This essay has provided a glimpse into the complicated and fascinating world of humanitarian intervention. In the first part of the essay, a brief summary of R2P and the place of ‘humanitarian intervention’ within it was offered. Subsequently, the essay explored the arguments of pro-interventionists. It was argued that sovereignty is conditional upon state’s ability to protect the ‘fundamental’ interests of its citizens. In cases where it is unable to fulfill its responsibility, the international community has the right and responsibility to assume this role in order to preserve the humanity of the citizens within that state. In addition, humanitarian intervention is also often a practical and political imperative. The next section of the essay talked about the other side of the coin. The skeptics suggest that humanitarian intervention is a moral garment to cover up irresponsible war practices and imperial agenda. In evaluating the claims from both sides, this essay has concluded that humanitarian intervention has strong moral and political legitimacy in the current global order. Nonetheless, its implementation must be governed by real accountability mechanism at the international level that works to prevent abuse of power. Second, the essay has argued that moral guidances such as R2P needs to be taught and understood by key actors within states to change current practices of humanitarian intervention. Lastly, every state is responsible in creating an environment where humanitarian intervention is less needed. Developed countries have the moral obligation to spearhead this process due their capacity and influence. 

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