In a world where the balance of power is skewed, it is not uncommon to witness citizens of developing nations looking towards the developed states for intervention in their domestic affairs. Nigeria, a prominent developing country, has yet to be immune to this phenomenon.
However, the slavish attitude of some Nigerian citizens calling upon external powers to interfere in their country’s matters raises important questions about sovereignty and the right to self-determination.
While the recent change of government in the United States faces opposition and criticism, it is remarkable to note that the losing side did not call for foreign intervention to overturn the election results. So why does this mentality persist in some developing nations like Nigeria?
Nigerian citizens who seek external intervention suffer from a sense of inferiority and a mistaken belief that the developed world cares deeply about their country’s affairs. They need to realize that Nigeria is a sovereign nation recognized by many co-countries vide international agreements, having met the criteria for statehood stipulated by the Montevideo Convention.
The Nigerian Constitution explicitly proclaims the country’s sovereignty and its commitment to unity and harmony. Section 2 of the Constitution reinforces the principle of equality among states, a fundamental tenet of modern international law upheld by various international instruments, including the United Nations Charter and human rights treaties.
Moreover, the right to self-determination, another crucial aspect of international law, gives developing nations the autonomy to shape their destiny.
Under international law, foreign intervention is a complex issue that should only be allowed in exceptional circumstances. The concept of “intervention” refers to one state interfering in the internal affairs of another, thereby violating its sovereignty.
The principle of non-intervention, enshrined in the United Nations Charter, aims to safeguard the independence of weaker states against more powerful ones. However, this principle does not apply to “impartial” humanitarian organizations engaged in relief activities during conflicts.
The legality, legitimacy, and value of an intervention depend on the nature and extent of the intrusion, as well as the jurisdiction over the target state. In the past, humanitarian arguments have been used to justify armed interventions that violated sovereignty. The International Court of Justice has clarified that even humanitarian aid can be considered interference and an unlawful intervention under certain circumstances. The use of force as an intervention is highly regulated by the United Nations Charter, which prohibits actions that undermine a state’s territorial integrity or political independence. Balancing the concepts of independence and justice becomes a challenge when considering different forms of intervention.
Historically, interventions justified by force have aimed at removing and punishing oppressive rulers. Interventions aimed at preventing oppression, defending human rights, protecting human dignity, or ensuring equal rights may not be restricted by international law.
Recent military interventions, such as those in Libya and Kosovo, have been justified to prevent humanitarian catastrophes. Nevertheless, the challenge lies in applying the law and its principles to specific cases, especially when violators of human rights standards invoke international law to justify their actions.
Good faith plays a crucial role in international law. However, bad faith can lead to abuse and misinterpretation of the law. Multilateral interventions endorsed by international deliberative bodies (such as the UN Security Council) provide greater legality assurance than unilateral actions.
Deliberative procedures are essential in determining the substance of international legal requirements, necessitating humility and consideration of others’ opinions.
Contemporary international law does not recognize unilateral armed intervention by a single state, except i cases of self-defence. The UN Charter established a system of collective security, and military interventions require the authorization or involvement of the Security Council.
The United Nations Security Council holds the authority to use armed forces primarily t maintain or restore international peace and security.
The right of intervention is limited to cases where a state’s behaviour threatens international peace and security, and the Security Council can take measures such as sanctions or armed intervention to address the situation.
The concept of the “right of humanitarian intervention” remains ambiguous, and its role i justifying the use of force to protect populations within a country requires further clarification. It is crucial not to confuse “humanitarian intervention”, advocated by states or the UN, with humanitarian actions carried out by impartial humanitarian organizations during conflicts.
I other words, international law distinguishes between states’ responsibilities to prosecute war crimes and the role of impartial humanitarian organizations in organizing relief actions.
On the first hand, the UN Security Council and regional security organizations determine if humanitarian law violations threaten peace and security and justify military intervention. While some Security Council resolutions have authorized the use of force based on humanitarian or human rights considerations, the primary objectives of peacekeeping operations are military, political, and diplomatic. The responsibility of UN soldiers to protect endangered populations and the role of humanitarian considerations in such interventions are yet to be fully defined.
International armed forces present in humanitarian assistance scenarios must tread carefully to avoid compromising neutrality and escalating the methods of war. UN peacekeepers rarely engage in combat, even when their mandate includes providing aid or protecting threatened populations. Instead, they often negotiate access and protection with the authorities controlling the population they are meant to assist
On the other hand, Humanitarian law recognizes the right of impartial humanitarian organizations to assist with armed conflicts. Such aid activities should not be seen as interference or unfriendly acts. Parties to the conflict must facilitate humanitarian assistance.
The International Court of Justice has made it clear that strictly humanitarian aid, provided without discrimination and to prevent and alleviate human suffering, is not considered unlawful intervention.
In conclusion, the situation in Nigeria does not meet the criteria warranting foreign intervention. Despite the slavish attitude of some Nigerian citizens, it is crucial to recognize Nigeria as a sovereign nation with the right to self-determination. International law emphasizes the principle of non-intervention, safeguarding weaker states’ independence against external interference.
While certain circumstances may justify intervention, it is a complex issue that must be approached with caution, legality, and respect for sovereignty. Nigeria, like any other sovereign nation, must strive to address its domestic matters internally without surrendering its sovereign rights and the right to self-determination.