American Sovereignty and the UNIssue: Winter 2000-2001
Earlier this year, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan delivered an address to the General Assembly in which he declared that "the last right of states cannot and must not be the right to enslave, persecute or torture their own citizens." The peoples of the world, he said, have "rights beyond borders." He is surely correct.
The sovereignty of nations must, of course, be respected. But, properly understood, nations derive their sovereignty -- their legitimacy -- from the consent of the governed. Thus, Slobodan Milosevic can hardly claim sovereignty over Kosovo when he has murdered Kosovars and piled their bodies into mass graves. Nor can Fidel Castro or Saddam Hussein hide behind phony claims of sovereignty while they oppress their peoples.