Ethics and international affairs

Three events have been reported in the international press that have aroused moral controversy; the bombing of Muammar Gaddafi’s residence in Tripoli, the killing of Osama bin Laden when he was unarmed, the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn for attempted rape when it could be that there was partial consent. How interesting for us is the ethical debate on each of these cases?

To begin with Libya. The debate has arisen because the military intervention was not justified as one might have expected on the ground that when flagrant violations of human rights were taking place, then the international community had the right to intervene in spite of the doctrine of the sovereignty of a state within its territory.

In this connection it might be recalled that when climate was declared by the United Nations to be a common concern of humankind, rather than a common heritage as Malta had suggested, people like me whose immediate reaction was to consider this declaration as empty were told that it had great significance in international law. Read more

Categories: Malta

2 replies

  1. The Western powers that are bombing Libya keep saying that ‘no, of course we do not want to kill Gaddafi’. At the same time they are killing dozens or hundreds or soon thousands of others. It would be more ‘humane’ to say ‘yes, we want to kill only Gaddafi’. Why kill hundreds or thousands just to avoid admitting that you want to kill one? (because they can be called ‘collateral damage’?)… What a world…

  2. The term ‘collateral damage’ means that we are not considering human life indispensible and not giving absolute value to all human life. If every human life is not precious than ethically none is! This lack of complete respect for human life can have further terrible consequences.

    This term has the risk of lowering the civilized to the level of terrorists who kill innocent life for their political agenda.

    I have examined these issues to some degree in an article titled: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Islam:

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