Election rigging, killings and persecution of political opponents, human rights abuses, kleptomania, marginalisation of groups, state-induced poverty, state-induced violence and fear. These indices are often precursors to a failed state or a government heading for a crash. The normal defence of a culprit state is always massive anti-facts propaganda. Such state will struggle hard to deny or explain away its mostly premeditated atrocities.
Officials of such state will most often justify their evil on the flimsies of protecting order and national security, and rely on the dubious sovereignty cover hoping no other country will ever step in to call them to order. Their propaganda will be trumpeted even beyond their borders and “it is not true” will dominate the airs until the final fall.
I believe in sovereignty of nations, but it has been roundly abused. Political leaders hide under the cloak of their territories sovereignty to commit untold evil against the very people they swore to protect. The height of evil leadership manifested in Rwanda in 1994, when the state supported and armed a group of people to slaughter their compatriots in millions. The government in Kigali drew its temerity on the doctrine of sovereignty, which they believed prevents other countries from intervening to stop the evil.
But new studies in Diplomatic History supports that sovereignty is no longer sacrosanct, and should not be. World leaders must conduct the affairs of their countries in a manner that is acceptable to humanity. The season of whims and caprices is over. Leaders are to be held accountable for despicable acts that threatens or injure their citizens. At worst, as can be seen in Syria, Libya, Iraq, cote Ivoire, and the Gambia, external powers can intervene to neutralise despots and protect the people. The recognition of an opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim President of Venezuela by the U.S Government is the latest addition to this statistic. The story of Venezuela is not too different from other cases; an oil-rich country run aground by dubious leaders. The stench of corruption, oppression and general mismanagement of the country`s resources created untold hunger and despair which pushed over 3 million Venezuelans to flee the country since 2014.
Amidst international outcry the 2017 elections was rigged in favour of the Maduro junta but his legitimacy has been a subject of challenge by both the opposition and her neighbours who are bearing the brunt of the huge Venezuelan refugees. Thus when the opposition sworn in Guaido as the new president of the country, that singular courage sparked tumultuous jubilation from Venezuelans and earned the admiration of President Trump who pledged to not only recognise but will give protection to the new interim government.
The meaning of this new drama is that Maduro must quit the scene or be ready to fight like Gadhafi of Libya. Those who fled the country or who were thrown into prisons will re-emerge to join forces with the main opposition and the international supporters to wrestle authority from him.
The outcome of such engagement is already known – Maduro will be defeated, killed, or captured and prosecuted. The stark reality of globalism is that evil or misrule in one country is a threat to other countries and as such, political leaders should not be deceived by sovereignty….they are no longer at liberty to do whatever they like. The experiences of Libya`s Gadhafi, Iraq`s Sadam, Ivoirian’s Gbagbo and Gambia`s Yameh should serve some useful warning to political leaders in Africa who still bask in the sovereignty shield.
Indeed, African leaders must be reminded that misrule can attract foreign intervention as the international community has a role that cannot be blocked by the invocation of sovereignty. At any point in time it is glaring that the state can no longer protect its citizens foreign intervention is a likely option. As enshrined in article 1 of the Genocide Convention, sovereignty no longer exclusively protects rogue states from foreign interference. The new principle sees sovereignty as “responsibility” to protect citizens and hold states accountable for the welfare of their people.
Like I announced to Rwanda during my 2018 visit to their Genocide Museums, the world will no longer sit by and watch anyone hurt humanity again. The thesis is that tyrants can now be removed by external powers under international law.
–Dr Philip Afaha is Head of Department (HOD), History and Diplomatic Studies, University of Abuja
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