BY: Marial Mach A’duot, Australia, AUG/18/2016, SSN;
The most controversial, and even sometimes perceived as an act of aggression is an intrusion on the country’s sovereignty. The conceptualization of the world as the ‘society of states’ summarizes the main criticisms leveled against the foreign intervention in the affairs of another country, irrespective of the intention. The global political arena in this context is viewed as the environment of the actors with equal status, sovereign states.
Each state is poised to pursue its interest in a respectful manner toward other countries. The basis of this assumption lies in sundry conceptualization and interpretation of sovereignty based on the Westphalian Treaty, which defined the state as an omnipotent supreme authority within its territory.
Viewed through this prism, sovereignty is made of three dimensions. The first is the holder of sovereignty, which is the state and the totality or absoluteness of the state. State sovereignty, in this case, cannot be withdrawn nor intruded by internal and external actors.
In conforming to these norms, the state is viewed as the political institution in which sovereignty is personified. Every aspect of sovereignty is built on the exclusions of the ‘other’. Sovereignty is an inward looking concept and in practice. It’s repealing characteristic demanded a consensual operation among States as the global society is an assemblage of the sovereignties.
Described as the ‘building block of a sovereign state’s system, the state took their sovereignty in the form of practical institutions and political thought. The first principle of sovereignty is autonomy, which encompasses not only the demand for the respect of the territorial integrity but also the state rights to the claims for the legitimate monopoly of power within their given territory without interference.
The non-interference concept defies the odds and establishes the state as an ultimate power in their affairs. The generic context of this lies in the perceived projection of states as the responsible within their boundaries for any reason.
In this context, state sovereignty remained as an integral norm in the global politics, but like any other conceptual notion, it is gnarled by the forces of evolution.
Sovereignty has transformed from a recluse driven, to include state ‘responsibility’ to internal polities and the world. Hence, the embodied status-quo of sovereignty has changed for the states to meet demands of the new age. The problems like terrorism require interdependence and rationalisation of the primaeval idea of state’s isolation.
This opening of sovereign borders came with a new regime of rules to govern how states should conduct their businesses. The notions of the sovereignty and its creeds of absoluteness of state came under new practice, as sovereignty is redefined to imply ‘responsibility’ and ‘absoluteness’ becomes depends on how much responsibility each state evinces. It has also become impossible for the states to act without consultation, even though unilateralism still exist.
Based on these assumptions, the world in which the Republic of South Sudan is operating has changed to encompass other actor states couldn’t function without them. It is apparent that the problems in one country became shared.
The political or economic crisis in one part of the world becomes an issue for other countries due to global integration. This sharing of problems often warranted other countries to interfere in matters that do not directly concern them.
The assumption that the world has become a ‘larger metropolis’ implies that an outbreak of Zika virus in one region requires a collective responding to prevent it from spreading to other areas. This is the same when the country is in a crisis of war. The creed of collective responsibility allows other states or institution to intervene with or without an approval of the state in question to protect the lives.
The United Nations, for instance, justify the intervention when the state has defaulted on its responsibility for protection or when it engaged in criminal activities against its people.
In both concept and practice, intervention is a breach of state’s sovereignty of states, but its proponents cited different incidences where the upholding of the non-interference creed led to the gruesome destruction of the human beings as inalienable creatures.
In the case of South Sudan, the UN and other groups calling for intervention invoked the idea that government is unable to protect its population from harms.
Whether such charges hold any truth true is the question of debate, but it is true that the ongoing crisis of violence had ushered South Sudan into worse crises more than just an inevitable social-political quagmire it was built upon.
With these issues, it is not only the violence between the SPLM-IG, and SPLM-ITB as it is now referred, that is responsible for the permeating crisis that affects the country. South Sudan’s crises are engrained and continually fuelled by historical debacles of violence which are interlaced with problems of weak institutions, overwhelming structural issues, including ethnic antagonism and factional competitions for power.
History of Africans continent and another part of the world tells us such debacles cannot all be resolved through an armed, but soft intervention.
Unlike political leaders, most experts are conditioned into believing that armed interventions are a lesser remedy to the situations where the clamour for war reaches fever pitch, as it was during the intervention in Somalia, and Libya recently.
These incidences produce a litmus test for intervention and also create the departure point for a state like South Sudan, to rebuke as a fallacy, the intended perusing of the intervention.
Soft intervention in this case, does not mean the third actor, like the UN and others, will cease being proactive in their approach, protracted conflict, like in South Sudan required an incentive method seeks to manage the war and preserve peace using political negotiation.
The UN or IGAD in the case of South Sudan needs to use incentives and deterrents to influence the policy position of the parties at war, especially their choices negate violence and choose peace.
Still the soft intervention approach is not well-received by scholars preoccupied with the realist tradition of international relations, built largely on the capabilities of states and their power relationships, a tendency that gravitated toward dimensions of hard power or military action, then the pressures and incentives to influence the behaviour of actors, in question, such South Sudan and the various rebel movements.
Lastly, the call for the option of soft intervention as for suitable for South Sudan lies in its social-political reality. Unlike other countries emerging from war, war and relapse back to war, South Sudan is a world newest state ‘born of crises’ and tensions.
Before 2011, what is now a Republic of South Sudan was the largest terrain roamed by hostile revolutionaries. In this sense, South Sudan was founded and built from nothing more than perturbs of wars. It doesn’t have main pillars of the state. Its security forces were drawn from rebellions armies; the political system never existed, as well as the capacity, including infrastructures and human capital.
I said these not as an effort to legitimize South Sudan’s default on its sovereign responsibilities, but it problematizes the charges of referring it as ‘fail’ to prevent violence because it was not free from violence nor vested with a capable system to prevent violence.
South Sudan was founded on the crisis, which is now ensuing and growing, and we need to question instead how to manage those conflicts, rather for the UN, and its friend’s in the region to bring in more arms that will worsen the crises.
The forcible action is not a right procedure to avert the crises in South Sudan because it will not stop the war between the factions. It will heighten the war and the potential for confrontation between the international forces and local people.
I am not eager of the proposed UN force, even though allowed due to many reasons. First, stopping war does not need the militarisation. Secondly, problems of South Sudan are not confined to Juba, but the entire country. So, how should stationing forces in Juba serve the purpose of the intervention?
South Sudan crises are not confined to the leadership contest between rival factions. Hence, if the UN and IGAD countries are pushing for the intervention to enforce the peace and project civilians by basing their troops in Juba, it is elaborately clear that it doesn’t matter, how paranoid the government of South Sudan in thinking the intervention is politically driven, but even some sensible people would think otherwise.
This is because the scope of the proposed force, its location and its role does not conform to what is fundamentally affecting the country.
I disagreed with the argument of sovereignty as the sole basis of why South Sudan should reject the intervention, though it is not wrong.
What will make more sense is to question how the UN forces are going to address the crises ranging from lack of institutions to the heavy militarisation of South Sudan? There is also need to question the motive of drumbeating IGAD countries, like Kenya and Rwanda, whether their concern is pure humanitarian or political economy of the intervention?
It cannot be denied that Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda may harbour some political interest in South Sudan, and would jump the bandwagons of intervention with such delight and relish to meet those interests should the opportunity unveiled itself.
However, what I thought to be the key motivation for these countries lies in their attempt to reach deep financial pockets of the international community. A serious charge, it seems, but the facts are clear.
First, Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda have issues in their countries that require the presence of their forces.
Secondly, the leaders of these countries know the situation in South Sudan is fluid and would require dialogue not force.
Thirdly, Rwanda and Ethiopia had already contributed forces to UNMISS and Kenya is engaging in the UN-backed mission in Somalia. These deployments came with financial royalties to the contributing nations, to cater for their forces.
But most importantly, the salaries of their men and women serving in the blue helmet uniform are taken care of by the UN. In this sense, I would argue that these countries are seeking more economic opportunities by offering their forces to the UN to free their budgets. Kenya and Ethiopia, in particular, might have a political motive in South Sudan, but their bottom-line interest lies not in the remedy of intervention in South Sudan, but the economic compensation from UN for putting their soldiers in harms ways.
Marial Mach A’duot is a South Sudanese reside in Melbourne. He can be reached for comments at firstname.lastname@example.org