Sovereignty cannot stop intervention agains rights abuses


Sovereignty can no longer be used as excuse by States to oppress their own people or prevent the international community to intervene to stop gross abuses of human rights, Belgium and Italy said at the United Nations.

“Belgium will not stand idly by when people claim a future free of coercion and terror,” Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Institutional Reforms, Steven Vanackere, told the annual general debate of the General Assembly on Saturday.

“Instead of non-interference, Belgium believes in non-indifference. Sovereignty is no longer a wall leaders can use as an excuse to violate the rights of their citizens.”

He noted that the uprising against authoritarian governments in North Africa and the Middle East had demonstrated that democracy and accountability are universal ideals valued by people across the world.

Mr. Vanackere stressed the need for a multilateral approach to global challenges, saying that the UN should lead efforts to find solution for humanity’s common problems, a stand echoed by Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini in his address to the General Assembly, where he called for greater UN involvement in post-conflict assistance in Libya.

“We do not want less United Nations involvement; we want more,” said Mr. Frattini, “Libya can be the first test case for a more prominent UN role. The UN is called upon to coordinate and lead the international community’s assistance to the country.”

Mr. Frattini also stated that the only way to prevent a massacre of the Libyan people was for the international community to invoke the principle of “responsibility to protect.”

“By helping to implement this decision in military, diplomatic and, humanitarian terms, we shifted from a culture of sovereign impunity to one of responsible sovereignty, rooted in national and international accountability for the most serious violations of human rights.”

Separately, Mr. Frattini and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held a meeting in which they discussed in detail a number of issues, including the Middle East and North Africa, Somalia, Lebanon, as well as Afghanistan.