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Divided Nations and the Challenges of Protection

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image of Global Responsibility to Protect

The international community confronts a major gap between the ideals propounded by the United Nations and the realities on the ground that often negate those ideals. The lofty principles of peace, security, prosperity and respect for fundamental rights and civil liberties stand in sharp contrast with identity-based conflicts. These conflicts emanate not from mere difference, but from acute divisions within nations and the gross inequalities, discrimination, marginalization, and denial of rights associated with those divisions. When the international community tries to get involved to redress these domestic injustices, sovereignty is invoked as a barricade. Since military intervention to protect populations within countries is very costly in human and material terms, and although it cannot be ruled out under compelling circumstances, it is generally avoided. The challenge then becomes one of how to negotiate sovereignty, to engage governments in a constructive dialogue based on sovereignty as responsibility for state protection of its people, if necessary with the support of the international community. That is the challenge I have continued to confront in the various posts I've held throughout my career. That challenge constitutes the core message of this article.


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