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Article 28: Right to social and international order permitting these freedoms to be realised



  • In the emerging international order humanitarian issues are gaining greater prominence.
  • New mechanisms are being discussed which could help world leaders judge when military intervention is justified.


There are increasing calls on the international community in general and United Nations in particular to resolve conflicts and prevent humanitarian disasters around the world.

NATO's action against Serbia in 1999 was not sanctioned by the UN but was designed to prevent humanitarian disaster: the forcible expulsion of Kosovo's majority Albanian community by Serb forces.

World leaders talked then of a new world order where foreign policy decisions are motivated by a belief in fundamental human rights.

But by taking military action to protect one community, the rights of another suffered. The 23,000 bombs NATO dropped on Serbia and Kosovo during the eleven week war killed an estimated 500 civilians.

Within months Russia mounted its own military campaign against its rebel province Chechnya. Many argue Russia's bombardment of cities in Chechnya brought about a forcible expulsion to match anything which occurred in Kosovo. One third of the population were forced to flee but NATO took no action against Russia, a nuclear power.

Now attention has turned back to the United Nations. The treaties under which it operates already provide for armed action if the Security Council approves - and there are now proposals for some kind of stand-by army.

Few doubt that a reformed UN is the one (and possibly only) body in the world with the moral authority to fight wars on behalf of humanity and thus create the conditions envisaged in Article 28.

But, with what could be almost limitless calls on its time, the question remains whether the world's strongest powers will be willing to provide the money and the troops to fund future UN missions wherever they are needed.


These case studies are individual examples of the relevance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The rights they refer to are not exclusively relevant to the country or countries mentioned here. Equally, this case study should not be seen as the only human rights issue in this country or group of countries.


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