When Should Countries Intervene In Others’ Affairs?

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The short answer is: ‘It’s complicated’. The founding Charter of the United Nations (26 June 1945) unequivocally expresses the principle of sovereign equality for its members. The argument that a state has the right to govern its own domestic affairs without external interference is regarded by critics of regime change as the foundation of a peaceful world order. Any breach of this principle through military intervention runs the risk of undermining international peace and security, and will lead to endemic warfare, as shown by the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s overthrow by the US and British invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The counterargument is that regime change can be a strategic or moral necessity, as was the case with the Second World War, and the Allied powers’ insistence on the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany. Widespread revulsion at Nazi atrocities – most notably the Holocaust – inspired the 1948 Convention on Genocide, which…

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