TED Conversations

Lindsay Newland Bowker


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What are the limits of sovereignty? Are we clear on international norms?

Present debate on what to do about Syrias use of chemical weapons on rebels/government opponents takes us back to the broader issue of the limits of sovereignty. It seems apparent that we don't have shared global values on a country's interior use of chemical weapons or what to do about it even though this ostensibly has been a matter of global consensus since the end of World War II. .What action is justified and is it ok for anyone nation to act alone without a global consensus on the basis of "protecting its national interests"?

(I will add links to several TED convesrations we have had in the past on global values and global governance)


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    Sep 13 2013: I have new questions about "the limits pf Sovereignty" inspired by recent reading about Syrias political and economic history, the history of the rebellion and recent changes in the shape and nature of that.

    (1) does any nation established by military seizure of power and not affording free elections have equal claim to sovereignty? Are dictatorships "free game", free trade zones on whatever interventions any nation chooses for any reason? ( that seems to be the understanding......) .

    (2) is "civil war" within a "sovereign" nation something outsiders should get involved in if there are no legitimate humanitarian risks to "citizens" and no military threats to other nations? When we had what England still calls our "civil war" and what we call our revolutionary war other nations were involved for and against the revolutionaries.

    (3)The U.S., at least by rhetoric, seems to think that there is a consensus among free people that all persons seeking freedom, democracy and free choice should be supported and that that is a special case when it is "ok" for a nation to operate on its own and covertly. Is there consensus on that?

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