Dealing with injustice: Dag Hammarskjöld and the international community today

  • H Melber


What can be done when governments and leaders in states do not abide to internationally codified norms and values? The Westphalian order allows
regimes to claim their domestic sovereignty over and above minimum standards of universally established normative frameworks, not least with regard to human rights. Is such a protective shield more legitimate than externally initiated interventions when basic norms are violated? Or is it not a matter of conscience and loyalty to fundamental human values if not a form of solidarity to take a stance against such injustices in the absence of any legitimacy of such forms of rule among the own people in these countries? The role of the United Nations, advocating a Responsibility to Protect and representing the most advanced form of institutionalised global governance, is hereby critical. This article discusses the options at hand when confronted with crimes against humanity. It pays special  attention to the understanding represented by Dag Hammarskjöld as second Secretary-General, his view of the international civil servant and the obligations of the United Nations to advance rights for people, at times against their rulers.

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eISSN: 1562-6997