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Article

Abstract

State sovereignty has long been regarded as the pivotal structural paradigm of international law. Its recognition in Article 2(1) of the U.N. Charter as a fundamental, albeit qualified, principle of the United Nations is only one of many indicators that it has not forfeited its significance. At the same time, the rising importance of the protection of human rights raises the question of how to reconcile the inherent tension between these two principles. In the modem international legal order, it has become clear that the treatment of human beings within the territorial boundaries of a state does not belong to the domaine reserve that excludes interferences from the outside. Yet it is far from clear how the international community-represented through the United Nations, regional organizations, and individual states or groups of states-should act and is allowed to act when a state commits major human rights violations such as genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, or crimes against humanity. When diplomatic efforts and political or economic sanctions fail, military action in the form of a humanitarian intervention is often considered as a last resort.

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