The responsibility to protect
DOI link for The responsibility to protect
The responsibility to protect book
The United Nations Charter’s approach to international law – due to its emphasis on liberal values such as non-interference, autonomy, and sovereign equality – has been labeled Charter liberalism (Simpson 2001: 451). It is not the liberalism of the liberal anti-pluralists who seek to bring illiberal regimes up to liberal standards, but a liberalism that combines a moral agnosticism vis-à-vis the internal practices of states with an emphasis on the equivalence of regimes, diversity, and peaceful coexistence. The UN Charter does not differentiate between states on the basis of their regime characteristics and thus puts forward a pluralist view of international relations.2 Factual power differentials notwithstanding, states are treated as legal equals, even if certain arrangements were put in place that accord the great powers special prerogatives, such as the veto rights of the P-5 in the Security Council. Sovereign equality in the UN Charter means that no state shall be subject to international legal norms it has not consented to; second, that no state shall be subject to the laws of another state; and third, that each state has the right to self-help (Kokott 2004: 519). During the Cold War, an interpretation of sovereignty thus prevailed that prioritized diversity over the pursuit of universal normative standards, equality over hierarchy, and non-interference over (forcible) good governance promotion. Even though the rule of non-interference was breached with some frequency, such violations were regularly condemned by states and even the intervening party usually justified its action in ways that “expressly or tacitly affirmed the validity of the rules” (Roth 2003: 237). The UN Charter’s laissez-faire approach is reflected most clearly in Article 2(7) on non-intervention, as well as in Article 2(4), which establishes a general prohibition on the use of force:
All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.