State sovereignty and respect for human rights: a conflictual relationship? Yaoundé, May 2019

On the 31st of May, a political debate was held in the conference hall of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation on the topic: “State Sovereignty and Respect of Human Rights”.
International law enshrines the sovereignty of States, that is, their ability to manage their own territories without the intervention of another State in their internal affairs. One can distinguish the sovereignty within the State and the sovereignty between States. Sovereignty within the State is based on the laws of the country concerned, while that between States is governed by international agreements. The discussion provided an opportunity to understand the issue concerning the respect of Human Rights by States and the international commitments to which States have freely subscribed.
The specific case study of Cameroon highlighted the fact that security threats undermine the country’s sovereignty, since international commitments call for the protection of human rights. It is therefore an important challenge for the state to reconcile security needs with the respect of the rights of its citizens. Its inability to protect human rights abuses in its own territory can open doors to the intervention of the international community in accordance with the principle of the responsibility to protect.