Human Rights and State Sovereignty


  • Ali Othman Hamad Eshib
  • Fouad Ben Alhaj


The concept of sovereignty may certainly be abused, leading to gross violations of human rights. Under international law, state sovereignty might protect criminals from condemning the international society. Too often in the meetings of the General Assembly of the United Nations, representatives of a member state justify its illegal actions, invoking the concept of sovereignty as a defense for their horrific acts against their people (often ethnic or religious minorities). Therefore, this essay will examine whether sovereignty and human rights can be reconciled. It is divided into several sections. Firstly, the definition of sovereignty is discussed. Secondly, the relationships between the UN Charter, sovereignty, and human rights are explored. Thirdly, conceptual argument is discussed, and the fourth part described humanitarian interventions by comparing the two case studies of Kosovo and Libya. Finally, this essay concludes that it is very difficult to reconcile between sovereignty and human rights