Barely Five hundred days ago, everyone assumed the concept of sovereignty was an absolute right. It was suddenly agreed; at least in the West that; under no circumstance should the sovereignty of a Nation get trampled upon, no matter what negativity went on in such nation.
The International community had a singular role, and that role was to place sanctions; deep-biting economic sanctions, and ensure that independent states can continue doing their own business without any form of interference; at least that’s what we thought.
And factually this fundamental position has played out in the Russian Ukraine conflict. The argument was simple; under no circumstance should a nation invade it’s neighbor, ‘Every state had the right to choose its alliances’ we were told, and the wishes of the people must be respected.
Russian defense of her actions were quite simple; the purpose of her invasion was for the denazification of Ukraine, the defense of Eastern Ukrainians and their liberation from the oppressive hands of Kyiv leadership (Although as with other cases, this claim was substantiated by very little evidence), but Putin actually convinced Russians, and a couple of folks across the world, that Russia was on the quest of defending freedom in her own way.
But what has changed so far?
Why suddenly do we have a renewed version of sovereignty? Vis a vis; that sovereignty is dependent on the type of government in place, meaning; a democratic state is sovereign and free to enjoy the benefits of it’s sovereignty, but an undemocratic state looses all vestiges of sovereignty and can legally be attacked, if such attack was aimed at restoring democracy?
Why suddenly have Russia officials been quick to announce that the sovereignty of Nations in the international sphere was uncontestable for any reason, and why has the West suddenly given support to the removal of an undemocratic government through the means of an invasion from a neighboring State, and not a revolution from within the acclaimed undemocratic State?
Your guess may be as good as mine; and it is simple: The case of Niger has brought to light the hidden hypocrisy that underlies several presumed ‘Just’ positions taken by States in the International sphere. The theory of realism is a perfect match here. Realism teaches that the position a state takes in international relations are based on it’s self interest and not on any conformity with some dictates of Justice. On such note, states in the International community supports a course if and only if, the level of benefit for them would outweigh the level of loss. This means; if a State’s interest is being threatened, it is free to go at all cost in order to protect such interest. Hence within such context, Justice is situational in Nature, as this idea runs similar to the underlying idea of situational ethics; which argues that ‘right and wrong’ are not absolute but context dependent.
We may call this hypocrisy, but that may be a rather too harsh term to describe the reality at play since the coup took place in Niger late last month. Prior to the coup, Niger as a nation was deemed almost insignificant in altering the course of the World order; at least to some extent. However, the very concern given to her in the last couple of days, followed by the level of international pressure on the West African regional body ECOWAS, which is currently led by Nigeria’s newly elected President, whose election, was marred very serious flaws confirmed both by the EU and ECOWAS observers, and is being challenged in court.
This gives credence to the argument that countering Russia in Niger is much more a priority than ensuring the sustainability of democratic process in Nigeria. By this formula it seems to be an acceptable fact that; a state with questionable democracy should take up the task of ejecting anti-democracy elsewhere. And this is the position of situational Justice.
States in the International sphere must seat back and actually decide what exactly they want for themselves and what drives their foreign policy.
Rather than put up a puritanical show of saintliness, it would be best to admit that their foreign policy are driven by self-interests and not an absolute drive towards some international good, which most States have always fronted.
The world cannot continue to leave on negatives, if respect for State boundaries is an absolute standard in international relations, as she has vehemently argued during the course of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, then she must uphold same standard in ensuring that any attempt at invasion of Niger by ECOWAS is collectively condemned, otherwise she owes an apology to President Putin.
While it is important to emphasize respecting the Democratic process, and ensuring the stability of States around the world, we must also note that the process of correcting an illegitimate process must also be watched.
You don’t remove lawlessness with lawlessness; otherwise you end up becoming a participant of that which you oppose.