Darfur and the responsibilities of sovereignty

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    An examination of the international community's response to the crisis in Darfur between 2004 and 2007 reveals two contradictory developments regarding the responsibilities of sovereign statehood. On one hand, the vast majority of states within the Security Council readily endorse the notion that sovereignty entails a responsibility to protect populations. On the other hand, a few states, including two of the permanent-five, continue to insist that the international community cannot legitimately intervene in the affairs of a functioning state, even when the sovereign has manifestly failed to carry out its responsibilities, unless sovereign consent is granted. While important developments have been made in holding sovereigns to account over the last two decades, this continued assertion of the necessity of consent strikes at the heart of the notion that sovereignty entails responsibility. If consent is required before the international community can act, the notion that the sovereign state is responsible and accountable not only to its own people but also to the international community loses much of its meaning. The enjoyment of sovereign rights can only be understood to be truly conditional upon the observance of sovereign responsibilities if the international community can legitimately breach these rights in the absence of sovereign consent.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)462-480
    JournalThe International Journal of Human Rights
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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