CSS Solved International Relations Past Papers | Discuss the concept of state sovereignty. What are the main arguments about non-interference in International Law?
Sheeraz Ahmed, the highest scorer in the CSS IR paper, attempts the following question. The question is attempted in the same way that Miss Abeera Fatima, the top IR scorer, has been attempting. Moreover, the answer is written on the same pattern, taught by Sir to his students, scoring the highest marks in compulsory subjects for years. This solved past paper question is uploaded to help aspirants understand how to crack a topic or question, how to write relevantly, what coherence is, and how to include and connect ideas, opinions, and suggestions to score the maximum.
The examiner wants to ask about the very basic concept of sovereignty, and it’s various kinds. Besides, it requires you to shed light on its historical evolution in a brief manner. It requires your understanding of the idea of non-interference in the perspective of International Law, keeping in mind the concept of sovereignty. It finally wants you to analyze the idea of sovereignty through theories of International Relations.
2- A historical evolution of state sovereignty
3- Modern concept of state sovereignty
4- The concept of non-interference in International Law
- ✓ Arguments in favor of non-interference
- ✓Arguments against non-interference
5- Theoretical Analysis
- ✓ Realism
- ✓ Liberalism
- ✓ Constructivism
Answer to the Question
The notion of state sovereignty is the bedrock of international relations, but it is not a license to kill, to maim, and to torture your own citizens.”– Samantha Power, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations.
State sovereignty is a fundamental concept in international relations and international law. It refers to the principle that each state has exclusive control over its own territory and domestic affairs and that no other state or external entity can interfere in these matters without its consent. However, the principle of non-interference in international law has been subject to debate, particularly in situations where a state’s actions may harm its own citizens or violate international norms. Non-interference has both in favor and against arguments, making it a concept more subjective in nature. Therefore, it’s subjectivity makes this idea more debatable in the era of hyper-globalization and collective security.
Defining the concept of state sovereignty
State sovereignty is a political concept that refers to the full and exclusive power of a state to govern itself without interference from external forces. Sovereignty includes the ability to exercise authority over a defined territory, make and enforce laws, regulate trade and commerce, conduct foreign relations, and defend itself against external threats.
The concept of state sovereignty is rooted in the idea that a state is a self-governing entity with the right to determine its own internal and external policies.
A historical evolution of state sovereignty
The concept of state sovereignty emerged in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries and became a key element of the modern nation-state system. The Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 recognized the right of each state to determine its own domestic policies without interference from external powers. In the 18th century, the Enlightenment challenged traditional notions of sovereignty, and the 19th century saw the growth of international law. The post-World War II era led to the creation of the United Nations and new mechanisms for collective security and intervention in cases of human rights abuses. In recent decades, globalization and the growth of international organizations and norms have further challenged the traditional concept of state sovereignty.
The modern concept of state’s sovereignty
“Sovereignty is no longer an absolute concept, because it cannot be in a world where everything is interdependent.”– Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations
The modern concept of state sovereignty is based on the principle of a state’s exclusive right to govern itself without interference from external forces. In practice, this means that each state has the authority to make and enforce laws within its own borders, regulate trade and commerce, conduct foreign relations, and defend itself against external threats.
The modern concept of state sovereignty also recognizes the importance of individual rights and the rule of law. States are expected to respect and protect the human rights of their citizens and to provide a system of justice that upholds the rule of law and protects individual liberties.
The Concept of Non-interference in International Law
The principle of sovereignty is a vital one, but sovereignty must not be a shield behind which states commit human rights violations with impunity.”– Ban Ki-moon, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations.
There are several arguments for and against the concept of non-interference in international law:
- Arguments in favor of non-interference
a. Respect for State Sovereignty: Non-interference is based on the principle of respect for state sovereignty, which is a fundamental principle of international law. States have the right to govern themselves without interference from external forces. Therefore, it is the defining feature of political existence of a sovereign state.
b. Promotes Peace and Stability: Non-interference can help to promote peace and stability by avoiding unnecessary conflict between states. It encourages diplomacy and negotiation rather than coercion and force. Hence, it limits the threat of asymmetrical warfare i-e Fifth generation warfare.
c. Preserves Cultural Diversity: Non-interference can help to preserve cultural diversity by allowing each state to develop its own unique identity and way of life without external influence. In a word, it prevents states from cultural homogenization which further converts into the issue of identity crisis for a sovereign state.
- Arguments against non-interference:
a. Human Rights Abuses: Non-interference can lead to human rights abuses when states are allowed to violate the rights of their citizens without external intervention. In extreme cases, such as genocide or ethnic cleansing, external intervention may be necessary to protect innocent civilians. The situation of Israeli atrocities in Palestine and the brutality of India in Indian Occupied Kashmir are major instances in this scenario.
b. Global Challenges: Non-interference may be inadequate to address global challenges such as climate change, terrorism, or pandemics. These challenges require collective action and cooperation among states, which may require some degree of interference in each other’s affairs. For instances, the non-cooperation of major states like USA and China on reducing global carbon emissions to deal with the issue of climate change is the prime example how non-interference is posing existential threat the world.
c. External Factors: Non-interference may be impractical in cases where external factors, such as the global economy or environmental degradation, affect the internal affairs of a state. In such cases, external actors may need to intervene in order to address these external factors. Hence, collective problems cannot be resolved through individual actions as it requires mutual cooperation.
- Realism: Realists define sovereignty as the ability of a state to control its own territory, maintain internal order, and defend itself against external threats. The United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change: In 2017, the United States announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, which was signed by almost 200 countries in 2015. The decision was based on the realist belief that the agreement was not in the national interest of the United States, and that it would limit the country’s sovereignty and economic growth.
- Liberalism: Liberals define sovereignty as the ability of a state to participate in international institutions and cooperate with other states to achieve common goals. The ICC is an international tribunal that has jurisdiction over individuals who commit war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. However, from a liberal perspective, the ICC serves an important function in promoting accountability and deterrence for these crimes, and contributes to the development of international norms and human rights.
- Constructivism: Constructivism emphasizes the role of ideas, norms, and identity in shaping international relations. Constructivists define sovereignty as a socially constructed concept that is shaped by international norms and practices. Constructivists argue that the concept of state sovereignty is not absolute and can be challenged by the emergence of new norms and practices. From a constructivist perspective, the acceptance of humanitarian intervention as a legitimate practice can lead to a reinterpretation of state sovereignty, which incorporates a responsibility to protect human rights.
In conclusion, state sovereignty is a fundamental concept in international relations and international law, based on the idea of equality among states and the principle of exclusive control over territory and domestic affairs. The tension between state sovereignty and the responsibility of states to protect human rights and uphold international norms has been a major issue in the 21st century. The arguments for and against non-interference in international law reflect the ongoing challenge of balancing the principle of state sovereignty with the need for international cooperation and the protection of human rights.
Sovereignty is not just about power; it is also about responsibility.” .– Louise Arbour, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
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