Letter: Laying down the law in Kosovo

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The tragedy of Kosovo brings home one obvious truth. The law relating to non-intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign states should be scrapped.

This concept was introduced to protect the world from expansionist powers such as pre-war Japan and Nazi Germany. Its effect has been to condemn large sections of the world's population to lives of unspeakable misery inflicted by some of the most barbaric dictators in history.

The fact that so many of these dictators have seized power illegally, without the consent of their people, adds a gruesome irony - as well as hypocrisy - to the phrase "sovereign state".

Western democracy, for all its faults, is the system of government most likely to bring beneficial change in the world. How the citizens of Iraq, Sudan, Kenya, Serbia, Burma (the list is endless) would welcome a system of government similar to the one we have in Britain.

How fortunate the world is that the main hope for good also has a monopoly of financial and military power. Surely we have a duty to use this power to ensure that all people in the world are given the hope that at some stage they, too, will enjoy the basic human rights that the majority in the West take for granted.

The fact that we have made mistakes in the past and the fact that we cannot deal with all human rights abuses at once do not alter this fact. Inability to do everything has never been a reason for doing nothing. Injustice and denial of basic human rights should no longer be allowed to flourish behind the shield of this discredited concept of national sovereignty.

STUART RUSSELL

Cirencester, Gloucestershire

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