Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. --Paulo Freire
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Robert Jackson believes that sovereign states have the responsibility of preserving the freedom, safety, and dignity of all of its citizens. Upholding these basic human rights can prove to be difficult, especially for populations with governments that have little or no power. These rights, however, should be extended to all people, regardless of whether or not their government can provide them.Citizens of powerful nations are assured these rights. “Failed” nations, however, are not able to guarantee these rights to their citizens.
Sierra Leone and Rwanda are both considered failed nations, mainly because their governments do not posses the power to control the activities inside their borders. The conflict surrounding blood diamonds in Sierra Leone, which started in 1991, has resulted in the rape, torture, and death of tens of thousands of people. The conflict is ongoing. Rwanda has faced similar problems. In 1994, an attempt at ethnic cleansing resulted in the death of over half a million people. The citizens of Sierra Leone and Rwanda were left defenseless against the violence that was unleashed upon their countries because sovereign nations across the world chose not to help them. These sovereign nations should be held responsible because it is their duty step in and preserve these human rights.
Jackson brings up a good point: sovereign states must balance the responsibility of defending the rights of citizens in other nations with the responsibility of handling their own citizens. But, this does not always mean that the citizens of sovereign nations should always come first. In almost every case, problems involving the mass killing of innocent people outweigh the every day problems faced by the people of sovereign nations. Sovereign nations must posses the ability to judge the problems of the world and decide to handle the most significant problems before the ones considered trivial in comparison.
In a way, sovereign nations “failed” by not attempting to solve the situations in Sierra Leone and Rwanda. In the future, sovereign nations must find it necessary to handle similar situations in failed nations that threaten the freedom, safety, and dignity of their citizens.