GOMEZ Oscar A.
   Department   Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University  College of Asia Pacific Studies
   Position   Associate Professor
Language English
Publication Date 2018/11
Type Research paper (Academic/Professional Journal)
Title Sovereignty as responsibility in East Asia’s response to crises
Contribution Type Single Work
Journal Humanitarian Alternatives
Volume, Issue, Page 9,pp.78-89
Details Sovereignty has been central to the emergence of liberal humanitarianism in the West. Government abuse of the doctrine of non-interference when dealing with domestic threats is seen as a major concern, justifying action without borders. Traditional humanitarian principles were conceived to deal with such sovereignty excuse to deny access, particularly neutrality so the most vulnerable populations could be reached despite political sensitivities and independence to avoid cooption from inside. Sovereignty was in the beginning one, if not the, nemesis of the humanitarian movement.

Nonetheless, the conception of sovereignty has been changing and it is not totally clear whether humanitarianism has caught up with its evolution. The first fierce test came after the end of the Cold War, when the international community embraced humanitarian reasons for international action, giving way to “humanitarian interventions.” Against this background, a new idea of “sovereignty as responsibility” gained attention, stressing the obligation for citizens’ protection that is implied by state sovereignty. This idea inspired the “responsibility to protect” doctrine, which tried to solve the problem of justifying intervention in the sovereignty-centric society of nations and, by so doing, also tried to disentangle military intervention from humanitarian practice.

Such “sovereignty as responsibility” is not the nemesis feared at the outset of modern humanitarianism, so, does this renewed conception of sovereignty affect the nature of humanitarianism? I discuss how this new sovereignty as responsibility disrupts humanitarian action, offering some entry points for a grounded discussion based on the evolution of crisis response in East Asia, understood as comprising both the East and the Southeast.
ISSN 2492-7120