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Archive for November, 2008

A Bit O’ Ideological Conflict: Something to Think About

with 9 comments

Before delving into the specific pragmatics of genocide occurring around the world, I think it would be beneficial to identify the international community’s moral dilemma in deciding a policy toward these situations.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” Article 3, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

“Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.” – Article 28, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Despite these articles contained within the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it remains a wonder that genocides continue to occur around the world, and that the United Nations refuses to intervene. So the question is obviously why?Why doesn’t the United Nations intervene, militarily or otherwise? It seems blatantly obvious that they should protect human rights. While this may seem like the most tempting option, it is always important to consider the other point of view, and to consider said view, we must first identify the major conflict.

So we know that the United Nations has a moral obligation to protect global human rights. It’s in their documents, and it’s part of the founding intent of the organization in the first place. Nevertheless, in the magical world of moral obligations there is always one which is arguably just as important, or even more important, than the obligation currently being discussed.

The question then becomes, what is currently trumping the United Nations’ obligationto protect global human rights? As Mallaby of the Washington Post reported in March of 2007, “Hu [Jintao] called on nations to respect the sovereignty of Sudan.” That is the policy stance the United Nations has currently adopted.

Both points of view have legitimate logical arguments behind them, and they both merit examination.

Keep in mind that this is just a brief synopsis of the points. Hopefully this short introduction will inspire you to learn a little bit more about the issue.

The Argument for Human Rights: Well, this shouldn’t be that difficult. Naturally, the purpose of government is to protect human rights. It’s really the reason government is formed. Most political philosophers including John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Plato, and John Rawls would agree with this. So, government loses its value when it fails to protect the rights of the people. The purpose of a state is to protect rights, and government is the tool used to accomplish that goal. When government fails to protect rights, the tool is broken. So, it merits replacement or repair. Simply put, when national sovereignty comes into conflict with human rights, sovereignty loses its value because the purpose of sovereignty is to provide a mechanism to protect human rights.

The Argument for National Sovereignty: These arguments are a little different . The human rights argument is deontological, meaning the results of actions are irrelevant. In deontology, morality depends on why we should do things, not what happens when we do them. The pro-national sovereignty argument is the opposite; it’s consequentialist, meaning that the results of an action determine whether or not it is moral. So typical “sovereigntists” argue, first of all, that national sovereignty protects autonomy and national identity. Making national boundaries arbitrary by allowing international intervention homogenizes the world, and cultural uniqueness dissipates. Second, it’s a slippery slope. If we let the international community intervene in such situations, what’s to stop them from extending the same principle and intervening on a whim? Most convincingly though, this side of the argument cites empirical evidence to show what happens when a foreign power steps into another country. Examples include Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, East Timor, Cuba, etc…Basically, the point is that things just get worse when the international community intervenes, and nothing is solved, so there’s really no point in going in at all.

So which option is right? I’ll leave that for you, my readers to decide. I invite you to post what you think, and I shall respond accordingly…


Written by Sultan Ahmed

November 20th, 2008 at 6:01 pm

Posted in Genocide Watch

Butts are Everywhere

with one comment

I always knew it was toxic. I always knew it caused cancer. I always knew it made you reek. But I never really cared, because I never did it. Coming to Case, however, I had a complete culture shock. I can’t believe how many students smoke here, and I’m just talking about freshmen. That, however, is beside the point. One thing I didn’t know, coming to Case, was that I’d get really interested in sustainability efforts and saving the environment and all. Not like a tree-hugger or anything (got nothing against the tree-huggers), but rather along the lines of trying to save energy and stop pollution. With this new mindset, those cigarette butts lying around everywhere have really started to bother me.  They really are everywhere.  I’m not even kidding. I swear if I stood anywhere on this campus, or in University Circle for that matter, I could find a cigarette butt within two feet of me. In the North Residential Village in particular, those disgusting white and orange rolled up pieces of gunk are laying around in every possible place. In the cracks in the pavement, in the bushes, in the flower beds, In front of residence halls, and dare I say, in the residence halls (yes, I’ve seen it) – basically every single place except the designated smoking areas. I don’t understand why students can’t take their second smoke to those places and away from people who actually like a clean campus. Maybe it’s because they’re not aesthetically pleasing. Maybe if we added some perennials or a tree by the sign…  Even better: a can, nay, a really pretty can, for those nasty butts. 

OK, hold on, I’m almost done with my rant. It would be quite unfair for me to condemn only Case students. While I try to avoid it, because it makes me sick and I just get downright turned off by it, I sometimes have to walk down Adelbert to get to my chemistry class. And, of all the places, in front of the University Hospitals of Cleveland, in every crack in the sidewalk, in every side street, under every tree there lay about 500 mushy butts. Maybe it’s just me but I find it completely ironic, as well as disheartening, to see nurses or rather anyone smoking in front of a hospital.  We complain about having decent health care for everyone in this country, but our lack of regard for ourselves, our health, the health of others, and our environment really makes it seem like we don’t deserve it in the first place.

Written by DivyaAggarwal

November 12th, 2008 at 12:12 am