The state of responsibility laws

States are required to take responsibility for their actions when they violate foreign agreements, according to the state of responsibility laws. In general, a country's compliance with a duty and the likely penalties for the violation are determined by the state responsibility rules. When breaches of international law's substantive rules take place, the responsibility laws serve as supplemental regulations that handle the main problems and available solutions. The regulations may have been broken through invasion or the use of force. The International Law Commission approved the Draft Articles in August 2001. (Draft Articles on the Responsibility of States for international Wrongful Act). The recent rise in terrorism and terrorist activities led increased security threat. The powerful countries such as the United States invade states harbouring terrorists and regions that create potential threat the human rights and security. The September 11 terrorist attack on the US changed the complexion of world peace and security measures. The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3314 resolved that countries should not be aggressive towards other ones for the world to have stability and peace. The resolution did not stop the US from invading Iraq and Afghanistan after the 9/11 to flush out Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorist groups, therefore, has a great impact on state law responsibility.

Article 3 of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3314 (2001)

The United Nations resolved to adopt the anti-aggression method to promote and strengthen international security and peace. The states were to refrain from all acts of aggression and other use of forces inconsistent with Declaration on Principle on Principle of International Law and United Nation Charter. The principles require the countries to remain friendly and cooperation between States. The article defines aggression and recommends the appropriate actions to be taken in case of such violation of the Charter. Aggression result to international aggression and crime against international peace. According to Article 3, the aggressive action includes bombardment, armed invasion, and blockade, territory occupation of a territory or allowing other states to use its territory to perpetrate acts of aggression. In article 2, the using force contravenes the United Nations Charter is the first-hand evidence (Prima facie) of aggressive acts. However, not all aggressive acts amount to a crime against world peace but war does. The states, nonetheless, should be held responsible in case they start any form of aggression.

The responsibility one country intervening in governing other states continues to be a controversial debate in the international relations. Many countries around the world began having autonomy as early as 17th century. The countries were free from foreign control and intervention of other states thus played an important role in the development of international society. Since the end of Second World War and beginning of the cold war, the world resolved to protect the human rights. Humanitarian interventions around the world caused serious debate over the last twenty years. The contentious topic caused disagreements in the United Nations. After the United States bombing on September 11, 2001, the situations took another direction. The states view to intervene in other country’s affairs changed. It is not clear whether or not humanitarianism is at the heart of foreign policies in the modern world. Questions arise whether the interventions are aimed at improving world security or the desire to assist the suffering population.

Countries under the United Sates Charter enjoy sovereignty and it is their right to claim. The states have the freedom to free governance, control and oversee development agendas. The different states have varied obligations and rights but sovereignty requires immunity from external challenge to methods and forms of governance. The world can achieve security through maintenance of international order based on recognition of rights of other states and territories. Despite the agreement to respect the sovereignty, some states abuse their citizens. Sovereignty needed restrictions in a way to prevent human rights violations. In the 19th century, many governments killed over 260 million own subjects representing over six times the number of people killed during the foreign invasion.

The United Nations adopted the responsibility to protect doctrine at the 2005 World Summit. The countries agreed that states have responsibilities to offer protection to the people from crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide and ethnic cleansing. The international community resolved to utilize the non-coercive measures to prevent mass atrocities and genocide. The Security Council could intervene using the full range of powers where the governments fail to offer protection to its citizens.

After the end of Second World War, there was change on how states viewed sovereignty. The Nazi regime in Germany carried out atrocities in Germany and Europe. It was a clear that human rights needed to take precedence over sovereignty in foreign policies in different countries under the United Nations Charter. The states needed to remain autonomous thus spurred de-colonization movements and was an impetus that outlawed war. The cold War involved firm restrictions on the use of force and ability of countries to intervene into other state’s affairs. There was great fear that interventions would damage balances of power, international stability, and peace.

The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 that led to the revival of humanitarianism. The international community’s failed to intervene during the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. The states and international politicians and organisations evaluated the sovereignty meaning and responsibility of states to intervene into other country’s affairs. The 2005 World Summit led to the adoption of the responsibility to protect doctrine.

The sovereign states and governments should work to improve human security. The human security includes human rights, physical security and other fundamental freedoms. The definition is not clear and some critics term it as vague as it leaves out some important issues pertinent to human security. Concerns arise over the justification of pre-emptive interventions before humanitarian crises can arise. It is not easy to predict whether a country is likely to commit human rights violation over its people. Intervention causes a great threat to sovereignty and is obviously liberal democracy forced upon another nation. Foreign intervention tends to overlook some violation over others. For Instance, in the USA, the Patriot Act enable law enforcers to search home, place of work, monitor phone calls, record conversations, financial records and emails without consent or a court order. The responsibility to protect challenges the core United Nations principle of peace and stability.

Al-Qaeda and Taliban Regime Involvement in the 9/11 Attacks

Nineteen Taliban members hijacked two commercial passenger aeroplanes on September 2011. Subsequently, the hijackers crashed them into the pentagon and world trade Centre in the US. The United States discovered that an extremist Islamic group, Al-Qaeda was responsible for the heinous attack on American soil. Rumours had it that the Al-Qaeda leader and mastermind of the 9/11 attack Osama Bin Laden were in hiding in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan was an essential centre for training and arming the militant members. Out of the 19 hijackers, 15 were from Saudi Arabia but Afghanistan was a battleground that housed hundreds of training and it meeting venues for the terrorists.

Afghanistan (OEF) and Iraq (OIF)

The acts of terrorism prompted the United State government to launch a quick response. The US gave ultimatums to Iraq and Afghanistan. The countries and the Taliban militant group failed to comply with demands of the ultimatum. Subsequently, the United States launched the Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) on October 7, 2001. The initial aim of the OEF was to ouster the Taliban regime which was protecting the Al-Qaeda terrorist group. President George W. Bush in the state address on September 20, 2001, indicated that the US would capture Al-Qaeda leaders, destroy infrastructure, terrorist training camps, and cessation of terrorist activities in Afghanistan.

The US invasion of Afghanistan easily removed the Taliban government from power. The joint effort of the United States and United Kingdom forces led to the arrest, prosecution or killing of top Al-Qaeda militants. The International Assistance Security Forces (ISAF) and the US officials feared a power vacuum and had to remain in the region until a formal and running government is formed.

In March 2003, the US and the United Kingdom forces invaded Iraq in the Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). There were speculations that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction creating fear to the world super powers and threat to international security. The United Nation Security Council required an audit of Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein. However, the search for the government indicated no evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Investigations continued to verify whether Saddam Hussein had links with the Al-Qaeda group that orchestrated the 9/11 terrorist attack. Investigations could not link Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda leader. The invasion of Iraq was controversial but succeeded in defeating Saddam Hussein’s oppressing regime. The war left a trail of destruction and deaths to US soldiers, British, Iraqi and innocent civilians. Worse still, the country has an unstable government after the troops left and will likely to harbour insurgents. The invasion of Iraq was on humanitarianism basis. However, the OEF and OIF breached the law of state responsibility and the United Nation Charter. The invasion was for self-interests and home security of the United States.

Article 3 Resolution 1368 of the United Nations Security Council

The Security Council adopted the United Nations Security Council resolution 1368 in 2001. Under Article 3 of the resolution 1368, the United Nations Security Council expressed determination to fight threats to international security and peace caused by acts of terrorism. The resolutions recognised individual rights and collective self-defence after the terrorist attack in Pennsylvania, Washington D.C and New York, United States on September 11, 2001. The resolution calls for the states around the world to cooperate in bringing the organisers, sponsors, and perpetrators of the attack to justice. The resolution stated the need for the international community to coordinate and increase efforts in preventing and suppressing terrorist activities. Article 3 called upon nations to accelerate and intensify information sharing regarding network and terrorist movements, fake travel documents, traffic in arms. States needed to adopt and implement the anti-terrorism conventions and resolution especially the 1999 Resolution 1269.

The 9/11 terrorist attack in the United Sates had serious impacts on the law of state responsibility. The events led to the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan in an attempt to remove ruthless regimes that arbitrary arrested, massacred and oppressed their citizens. The US invasion of Afghanistan was perceived to be in line with previous intervention in Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Northern Iraq and Somalia. The aim was to prevent the hostile regime from the further oppression of the people and the neighbouring communities.

The critics of the humanitarian efforts after the 9/11 event argues that self-interest out modelled other nation citizens’ wellbeing. The invasion of Kosovo and East Timor intended to protect other countries while the Iraqi and Afghanistan Wars aimed at protecting ‘self’. The failed states around the world harbour terrorist networks leading to anti-western and terrorist sympathisers in the region. Therefore, destabilising a government and final collapse also raises concerns. The humanitarian interventions to some degree serve self-interest. The invasion of sierra-Leon, East Timor, and Bosnia was led by visionary leaders with interests in intervention to stop further atrocities. The Rwandese crises did not have the leading nation to back the intervention. Consequently, the United Nations Security council was slow and weak while responding to the genocide.

The United States invaded Iraq with the humanitarian arguments and did not focus on liberating the suffering citizens. The United States wanted to stop threat posed by Iraq to the security at home. The support for the intervention weakened and diminished due to lack of a link between Al-Qaeda terrorist group and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Former United Kingdom Tony Blair began drawing attention to the moral purpose of intervening for Iraqi population who desperately needed human security. The discovery mass graves further justified humanitarian intervention. The use of humanitarianism to justify intervention can have a significant impact on international society. The United States war on terror is a self-security campaign. The cost of material and political resources requires the US to maintain the good relationship with United Kingdom, France, Germany and other powerful nations. The USA uses humanitarian rhetoric to further its foreign policy.


The September 11, 2001, terror attacks on Pentagon and World Trade Center in the United States diminished state law responsibility. The powerful nations around the world use responsibility to protect as a disguise for self-security and self-interest. The invading countries use humanitarianism intervention to break down the United Nation Charter and principles of state sovereignty. In particular, the United States with the help of the international community is able to fight its enemies. Humanitarianism justification is used by powerful militaries in the world to carpet bomb poor regimes and overthrow their government and other interventions that are morally questionable. It is certain that states need intervention responsibility in other state’s affairs in situations of gross human rights and security violation. However, in the last sixteen years, the state law responsibility has no meaning a humanitarian approach remains a disguise to front self-interest.


Crawford, James. The International Law Commission's articles on state responsibility: introduction, text and commentaries. Cambridge [u.a.]: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002.

Farer, Tom. 2008. "Humanitarian Intervention before and after 9/11: Legality and Legitimacy". Human Rights : Critical Concepts in Political Science. 3: 330-362.

Hamilton, John. Operation Enduring Freedom: the war on terrorism. Edina, Minn: Abdo Pub., 2002.

Messmer, William B., and Carlos L. Yordán. "A Partnership to Counter International Terrorism: The UN Security Council and the UN Member States". Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. 34, no.11 (2011): 843-861.

Paris, Roland. "Human Security: Paradigm Shift or Hot Air?" International Security 262, no.2 (2001): 87-102.

Welsh, Jennifer Mary. Humanitarian Intervention and International Relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Williams, Paul. 2013. Security studies: an introduction. London: Routledge.

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