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What does 'internal affair' really mean?

By       Message Zaw Nay Aung     Permalink
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It is not only disappointing but a shocking experience that China and Russia vetoed again to block the UN resolution against Zimbabwe's Mugabe regime. It is unbelievable how China and Russia could turn a blind eye to the atrocities and block the UN action which could bring significant changes in Zimbabwe's conflict. China and Russia started enjoying their vetoes since Burma's issue was raised at the UN Security Council led by the US and UK in early 2007. They always claim that it is "internal affairs" but what does that mean in fact?

Not only the UN itself but the international community has the responsibility for global justice, freedom and prosperity of the underprivileged countries, and the affluent states have the right to promote freedom, rights and democracy of other countries where it needs to be promoted. It cannot be claimed that the countries working for the betterment of global society are interfering. And the United Nations itself has the right to intervene in situations like in Zimbabwe and Burma. The real interference is blocking the welfare of general population or majority of the people in a country where rights and freedom is extinct.

When a country is facing a significant challenge of humanitarian disasters, the international community has to intervene to resolve the conflicts rather than doing nothing and calling it an "internal affair." Is it the right thing to do to let people die from natural disasters such as Cyclone Nargis in Burma or man-made disasters such as extra-judicial killings, arbitrary detentions and "mass intimidation'" against people who speak for justice, freedom and equality of prosperity? If you look at the recent events in Zimbabwe and Burma, the authoritarian regimes and their militias violently cracked down on the opposition and controlled power undemocratically and illegitimately. Although the UN actions are initiated, the powerful "vetoes" have been overriding the process of resolving political stalemates in Burma and Zimbabwe. If the United Nations could not address these conflicts, then the world powers such as United States and United Kingdom will surely tighten the measures against these brutal regimes of Zimbabwe and Burma.

Then the circle of sanctions and the process of resolving "internal affairs" would take ages and people would continue living in these deteriorating circumstances without hope for freedom and prosperity. It is the time for the global society to unite and work together for the global prosperity. The world should no longer be divided as North and South and the world powers should realize that the Cold War era was over decades ago. Crucially the term "internal affair" should not be coined when the incidents of oppression, injustice and inhumanity occurred in a society. The world should not afford to ignore the atrocities as "internal affair." When the freedom and prosperity of people are not allowed to flourish, atrocities have the opportunity to grow up. It is absolutely interfering in the process of development and democracy in a country.


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Zaw Nay Aung is director of London-based human rights advocacy and think tank, Burma Independence Advocates.

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