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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Suffering and sovereignty: civil conflict, convert aid and international humanitarian law Brenninkmeyer, Olivier A. J.


The following text analyzes legal and political problemsthat arise when donor countries attempt to provide, or facilitate the distribution of, humanitarian aid to people in insurgent-controlled areas of another state without the consentof the government in question. The purpose is to find out how uninvited humanitarian relief operations (covert aid) can be justified given the existing legal treaties and recent developments in customary international law. The reason for doing so is to explore the impact which such aid has on the concept of state sovereignty and how this concept is undergoing change due to the increasing involvement of the international community through the work of the United Nations. In the wake of recent humanitarian interventions, there is a shifting of concerns in favour of the welfare of civilians in civil wars over the interests to safeguard the security of the nation-state. In light of the above, the discussion here considers three civil conflicts: the civil wars in Nigeria and Ethiopia and the persecution of Kurds in Iraq. The text concludes that covert aid may produce a beneficial effect besides helping those in need; its inherent challenge to state sovereignty promotes an incremental loosening of the ideological conflict between human rights and sovereignty by which the international community under the auspices of the United Nations can encourage a wider acceptance of human rights values.

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