Sovereignty As Responsibility: Conflict Management in Africa

In This Review

Sovereignty As Responsibility: Conflict Management in Africa

By Francis M. Deng et al.
Washington, 1996
265 pp. $42.95
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In the new world order, should the community of nations continue to adhere to the old principle of nonintervention in the internal affairs of sovereign states so long as their domestic policies do not constitute a "threat to international peace"? Not if the world recognizes, as these authors argue it should, that sovereignty carries responsibility to fulfill a social contract in which the legitimacy of rulers derives from their efforts to promote the welfare and dignity of all their citizens. Predatory or incompetent states that fail to discharge this duty must accept the right of other countries or international bodies to intervene to resolve conflicts and rescue victim populations from disaster. To help nudge international opinion closer to an acceptance of sovereignty as conditional, this study, drawing examples from Africa, lucidly sets out a framework of concepts and arguments to show how states can prevent, manage, and resolve conflicts that threaten their legitimacy, as well as how international and regional organizations can work to promote norms of responsibility within and among states.