People First, Nations Second: A New Role for the UN as an Assertive Human Rights Custodian


The tragedy of East Timor in 2000 coming so soon after that of Kosovo focused attention on the weaknesses of previous United Nations missions that have been ad hoc, reactive, and narrowly focused on solving the international emergency of the moment. The United Nations and its Members need to focus on the need for timely intervention to save civilian populations from mass slaughter. It must adopt a new role as the assertive custodian of human rights because the use of its enforcement powers in the domestic affairs of rogue States may have a deterrent effect. Therefore, it should lead the way in defining its interventionist role in the emerging international norm of humanitarian intervention.


International Law

Date of this Version

May 2006