A new era is slowly dawning in international law. With the end of the Cold War, the international community is beginning to see the United Nations act in the capacity it was intended to, halting international conflicts and preventing humanitarian tragedies. The international community is shifting its interventionary diplomacy, away from purely geopolitical interventionism, and in the direction of support for humanitarian claims to alleviate human suffering. The key issue in this transition is upholding the traditional state-based norms of international law while promoting the individual-based principles of humanitarian justice. As stated by the Foreign Minister of Zimbabwe at the 1992 Security Council summit: ³There is, therefore, the need to strike a delicate balance between the rights of States, as enshrined in the Charter, and the rights of individuals, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.²
Regional organizations are a part of this new era. They can provide the bridge between the two principles, protecting the sovereignty of the state while promoting the humanity of the individual. Humanitarian intervention is one of the best methods to accomplish this. By giving regional governments the ability and incentive to quickly and vigorously defend and safeguard human rights throughout the world, the UN will possess a powerful tool for protecting the interests of all humanity. As the International Court of Justice noted in the Nicaragua Case (1986), ³It was never intended that the Charter should embody written confirmation of every essential principle of international law in force.² International law is already moving in this direction; NATO¹s war in Kosovo merely proved the existence of this norm.
The conflict in East Timor very possibly could have been the clear and final enunciation of the principle. It now remains up to today¹s international legal leadership to enshrine these new developments of international law. As one of this era¹s most preeminent legal scholars once stated: ³The challenge to international lawyers and scholars must be to clarify continuously the common interests of this ever-changing community.² The words have never been more true than today.