Sovereignty and the promotion of peace in non-international armed conflict.

Author:Spain, Anna
Position:NEW VOICES I: HUMANIZING CONFLICT
 
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As the title of this panel, Humanizing Conflict, suggests, there is an emerging normative discourse in international law that emphasizes the protection of individuals and the humanization of law. (1) One driver of this development is the changing nature of war, as non-international armed conflicts have replaced international wars as the main form of armed conflict in today's world. (2) This, as the tragic examples of the Arab Spring have shown, presents new challenges for international law. (3) Scholars have treated these challenges through the lens of various substructures of international law, such as human rights and international humanitarian law.

In my remarks, which are based on a forthcoming article, I argue that these challenges are symptomatic of a deeper and more fundamental problem. This can be understood as a norm conflict between two of international law's first principles: peace and sovereignty. (4) I describe the origins of both as first principles of international law, including their important interconnectivity during the creation of the Peace of Westphalia. (5) In modern international law, the UN's purpose is to "maintain global peace and security ... and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace ..." (6) At the same time, the doctrine of sovereignty provides states the right to territorial integrity and prohibits external intervention into a state's internal affairs. (7) The problem international law now faces is conceiving how to uphold both of these norms in the event of non-international armed conflict.

This problem unfolds in decisions about the legality of intervention into sovereign nations during times of armed conflict. (8) The norm of non-intervention exists to deter states from using force as a means for settling their disputes, and to prevent interstate war. (9) Such sovereign rights can be limited, for example, when the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) authorizes intervention to restore peace. (10) But the context of non-international armed conflict complicates the rules and UNSC practice with regard to intervention is inconsistent at best. As NATO's intervention into Kosovo illustrates, an illegal intervention can be deemed legitimate. The recent events in Libya and Syria illustrate further challenges about the relationship between promoting the integrity of statehood and taking action to restore peace. On the one hand, the right to...

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