Monday, May 05, 2008

Squaring Sovereignty and Intervention

I have noted in the past that "southern democracies" like India or South Africa are nonetheless very receptive to China's contention that respect for state sovereignty must still serve as the fundamental basis of the world order. They are suspicious of claims that other states can and should intervene in the domestic affairs of a state, even on human rights grounds-and this was manifested by reluctance to intervene in Zimbabwe or Burma.

So an interesting "pitch" is underway-to argue that the international community has no right to intervene in the affairs of democracies, only non-democracies. Also a useful doctrine for Americans suspicious of EU style legal interventionism (e.g. The ICC).

They aren't going to go for this. Venezuela and Bolivia were once democracies until they elected the wrong people.
I think it's a great idea, if the international community came to agreement on a definition of democracy. Could be like defining terrorism.
Europeans aren't going to go for this because whole reason for their approach to international law is to constrain the United States and its freedom of action.
Two items:

There are only 23 countries in the world today that have both Representative Government and the Rule of Law. Almost all of them are in Western Europe and North America. Are you trying to bring back the White Man and his Burden?

Secondly, who is going to bear the cost of intervention and how?

Pipe dreams, I should think.
Interesting, anonymous 6:23, and I think this is precisely why India, South Africa and others aren't going to sign on to this.

But another point: only 23? Current discourse in the US says that there are more than 100 democracies and that these new powers of intervention would only be focused on bad places like China.

Crazy talk, of course--but still it shouldn't be ignored.
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