Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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Between the principle of non-interference and the protection of human rights

Saturday 09/January/2021 - 06:13 PM
The Reference
Basma Fouad

Non-interference in the affairs of states is not a defensive demand from some countries that violate their privacy and sovereignty with various arguments, including the protection of human rights, but rather it is a principle among the basics and rules of international legitimacy and all sources of public international law that have been affirmed as a binding principle for states and the United Nations and approved by International legal scholars and established by international treaties and dealt with international norms.

However since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the problem between the application of this principle and the protection of human rights has existed ,  in this article we explain what the principle is, its history and legality, when the human rights file is involved in the affairs of states and their sovereignty and when this principle secures the protection of human rights.

This principle is just a reflection of the principle of national sovereignty, which has transformed due to the development that the world is experiencing from the concept of absolute sovereignty to restricted sovereignty.

The emergence of and interest in this principle began in the middle of the seventeenth century until it was stipulated in the Covenant of the League of Nations in Article 15/8, then the League collapsed and the Second World War ended and the United Nations was established, so the United Nations Charter stipulated the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states in Article ( 2/7) to be among other principles regulating the fundamentals of the rules governing and organizing the world after the Second World War.

How the principle of non-interference is considered one of international law sources?

International law has original basic sources and secondary sources, the original sources are represented in treaties, customs and general legal principles, while secondary sources include national laws, meaning the laws of the country itself, as well as the sayings of scholars in general international laws.

In the beginning, international norms were the first direct source in public international law, and then treaties came to occupy this position. Treaties are an international agreement between two or more states. This definition came in the text of Article 2 in year1969 of the Vienna Convention.

The principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states was included in many collective or bilateral treaties, starting with the Latin American States Project 1925 through the Mexico City Conference (1945 ) that defined and came to a definition  the principle of non-interference, then the same principle appeared  in the NATO Treaty on April 4, 1949 in Article Two , then the Arab League which  approved the principle of non-interference in internal affairs  in its charter on May 10, 1945, in which it was stated to respect the sovereignty of member states and it is not allowed to interfere in their internal affairs, as well as in the treaty concluded between Iraq and Turkey on February 24, 1955 in which each party pledged to refrain from Interference in the internal affairs of the other party. Therefore, the principle of non-interference is one of the most basic principles of international law.

As for international norms, which mean the Observed international customs . These international norms are considered a law in Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, and of course it has its conditions to be considered as custom-  among the customs that approved the principle of non-interference-  is the declaration of the rights and duties of states in the United Nations in Article Three, which states: Each country must refrain from all interference in the internal and external affairs of another country, ”as was stated in United Nations Resolution No. 2625, which was issued in October 1970, as well as the Charter of the Economic Rights and Duties of Countries in December 1974, which stated“ Every country has the sovereign and natural right to choose its economic system in accordance with The will of its people without external interference or pressure, whatever its form. "As for the secondary sources of international law, the principle of non-interference in the laws and constitutions of many and many countries has been approved.

The principle of non-interference and human rights

Since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and after the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the disintegration of the Eastern Bloc, the United Nations interfered in the affairs of states for humanitarian purposes and this intervention increased, so this intervention was the subject of a dispute among international law scholars based on the principle of non-interference.

A team acknowledged that interference in states ’affairs for humanitarian purposes such as protecting human rights is illegal and violates the provisions of Article (2/7) of the United Nations Charter, and that this Charter does not authorize the Security Council to intervene to protect human rights, but rather its role is to help achieve the protection of human rights.

Another team has seen that protecting human rights and interfering in this matter in states by helping to provide protection for the citizens of a state unless it takes into account that its sovereignty is based on justice and equality.

Another team recognized that international intervention to protect human rights is legitimate and a co-occurring response to any flagrant violation of human rights. Therefore, these are views among the jurists regarding the United Nations’ entitlement to interfere in the internal affairs of states with the aim of human rights.

The question now is; when is interference on the pretext of human rights acceptable and when it unacceptable and states is have the right to sue other countries on the basis of the principle of non-interference that has been approved by all sources of international law.


States have the right, through the United Nations and the Universal Periodic Review, to recommend other states and state their observations on any violation of human rights, without any obligation to force or punish states if they violate the recommendations, as the provisions of the United Nations charters related to human rights are devoid of any legal value, but states have the right to follow it for Monitoring violations and making recommendations to states and here in the United Nations forum is not considered interference in internal affairs.

But on the other hand, and applying to the Egyptian state, we find that what some countries are doing is a blatant violation of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of countries, so financing terrorist organizations, harboring opponents, and opening media trumpets to demolish other countries are violations punishable by international law. The Egyptian state has the right to sue them in international courts. In addition, the law is in the interest of Egyptian sovereignty, so what I recommend to the state to activate the judiciary and prosecution of any country that violated Egyptian sovereignty and interfered in its internal affairs, as the law is the shield and the sword to protect the right.