To begin with, the UN charter was concerned about the state sovereignty and asserted that it should be respected. At the same time, it was concerned about human rights and claimed that they should be protected. This situation sparked confusion when sovereignty clashes with the protection of human rights norms. There seems to be no confusion between the above statements because both of them were mentioned at the same charter. However, Chimni said that in reality, the sovereignty’s principles are considered as a real challenge for the UN and other bodies regarding human rights protection.
Hence, the UN charter is unclear when pertaining to situations on how human rights norms could be enforced within states without breach of their sovereignty. In practice, the principle of state sovereignty has introduced a strong barrier in front of international human rights bodies such as the UN in their fight for human rights protection. This situation made it difficult for individuals, who are suffering from human right abuse within their states, to get help help and protection from the international community.
Hence, many countries mistreated their populace breaching the boundaries of their basic rights. These countries considered this as an internal affair based on sovereignty. With such arguments, the massive human rights crisis with Kurdish people in Iraq which was committed in 1987 under the government of Saddam Hussein. It is a strong case showing how the UN was ineffective in responding to such situations. This violation against human rights is considered to be genocide of Kurdish people. It is one of the worst human rights abuses.
In detail, the Kurdish people had disagreements with the Iraqi government and they were seeking their rights. The government identified the situation as a threat of Iraqi unity and considered it as a rebellion which could affect national stability. Therefore, the government tried to deter Kurdish people through cruelty and other inhumane acts. The Iraqi government destroyed all their houses and used chemical gas to kill Kurdish people. As a result, many Kurds were killed without discrimination.
This includes women and children. After the events, Saddam Hussein’s government covered this act under the name of state sovereignty. More notably, the UN was a witness to this turn of events and it could not do a thing to help the Kurdish people fight for their rights. Clearly, the UN could not protect human rights from being violated when sovereignty is used as a counterargument. The incidents that happened in Darfur, Sudan would be another example of how human beings could be abused with impunity from the UN.
These examples and others show in one hand, how many human rights violations have appeared under the name of sovereignty and on the other hand, no sufficient action has been taken by the UN to stop these violations for the reason that they are powerless against a nation’s right to sovereignty. Although with the black pictures of the ineffective role of the UN in its task of dealing with human rights contraventions, the UN was successful in just some cases.
For instance, the role of the UN in Somalia was promoted by the UN Security Counsel (UNSC) in 1992 to ease the path for the delivery of humanitarian aid. In that case, the UN was authorized to “use all necessary means” in order to create a safe environment for the said task. However, even that success of the UN in its task of delivering humanitarian aid still does not give much significance to human rights protection because it did not enforce human rights protection. It merely helped provide aid to people in dire need.