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Is there ever justification for attacking the values enshrined in foreign legal systems, or for attacking the ideas of right and wrong found in the cultures of other nations?
I believe there is justification for attacking the values enshrined in foreign legal systems, or for attacking the ideas of right and wrong found in the cultures of other nations, in some circumstances. These include a breach of international human rights, such as slavery or persecution of religious minorities. However, in other circumstances, such as where a country simply follows a different political ideology compared to most countries, such as communism, there is not a justification for this. ‘Attack’ in this context will be taken as nations taking active steps, such as through diplomacy or sanctions, to condemn the values and ideas of right and wrong of other nations.
There are certain rights that everyone must have. These include equality, freedom of speech and expression, and freedom of religion. These rights should be universal, and all countries must strive to uphold these basic human rights, regardless of a person’s race, gender or religion. However, there are some countries that do not uphold these rights, and this disadvantages people living in those countries, especially minorities. Suppose Country A persecutes people who do not follow the state religion, and Country A believes this is the right thing to do. Sam lives in Country A, and Sam does not follow the state religion. For this reason, Country A persecutes Sam. There are many other people who live in Country A but do not follow the state religion, and like Sam, they are at risk of being persecuted. There is now a justification for another country, such as Country B, to step in to protect the right of these people. This is because Country B would be protecting a universal right, i.e. freedom of religion, that all countries must have adhered to. With that being said, Country B should try to protect the freedom of religion for citizens of Country A in a peaceful manner, and must try not to resort to violence. This could be through diplomatic efforts or appropriate sanctions. If Country B does not step in, and nor does any other country, then the people of Country A would have their universal right of freedom of religion violated. This is unjust and cruel, and therefore provides a justification for attacking the values and ideas of right and wrong of other nations.
However, nations have the right to state sovereignty. This means that no nation has power over another nation. So, it could be argued that there is no justification to attack the values and ideas of right and wrong of other nations. Yet human rights should be far more important than state sovereignty. Take the example of Nazi Germany. Initially, other nations did not take action to protect the rights of minorities not only because of the fear of inciting another war, but also because of the idea of state sovereignty. This has led to many minorities, such as Jews and the disabled, to suffer inhumane treatment at the hands of the state. Human rights must take precedence over state sovereignty – everyone should have the ability to enjoy their rights, regardless of the country they live in.
Nevertheless, there are some circumstances in which there is no justification for attacking the values and ideas of right and wrong of other nations. This includes when a country has a different political ideology compared to other countries. Suppose Country C organises itself as a communist society, whereas the vast majority of countries organise themselves as a capitalist society. In this case, as long as there are no breaches of the universal human rights, other nations should not actively attack Country C’s values and ideas. This is because of state sovereignty. All states should have the ability to run themselves as they wish, as long as they are adhering to international law.
To conclude, there is a justification for attacking the values enshrined in foreign legal systems, or for attacking the ideas of right and wrong found in the cultures of other nations when there is a breach of human rights. Although state sovereignty is important, human rights should take precedence. However, there are circumstances in which there is no justification, such as when a country simply has a different political ideology.