‘Countries experiencing conflict should be left to sort their own problems.’ How far do you agree?

‘Countries experiencing conflict should be left to sort their own problems.’ How far do you agree?

Question analysis- definition of key terms

Experiencing conflict: having issues dealing with domestic problems such as human rights; civil war; poverty

Left to sort: They should be left on their own terms to deal and resolve their own problems. There is no need for foreign intervention.

Assumption: The nation would know best in the reasons for their own conflicts, and that they would be the best person to resolve them. If the conflicts are really too complex and out of hand, then the countries should appeal for help on their own to the international community. Sovereignty of the state should be recognized at all costs and never to be infringed upon because the intervening state could abused and exploit the citizens.

To do well for this question, students need to consider the situations in which it is alright for the international community to come in to settle problems and even conflicts for the country. What are certain circumstances in which the sovereignty of the state could be violated? Also, students need to balance this against why the country itself should deal with their own problems and what are certain problems that intervention could possibly bring about.

Yes they should be left to sort their own problems

  • Intervention by foreign powers could be for their own self-interest and they could end up exploiting the local people given their intervention. Very often, these foreign powers have an agenda for intervening in the country and due to past historical baggage, they could possibly take revenge on the locals.
  • Intervention by foreign powers could bring about more problems than it solves. Intervention could possibly backfire especially if the peacekeeping troops choose to take sides in the conflict or try to impose their resolution on the people. Also, it is very difficult for an external power to understand the local situation and context of the place especially if the conflict is religious and racial in origin.

No they should not be left to sort their own problems

  • They should not especially if the state is committing human rights issue/genocide on the local people and this would require the intervention of the international community. In fact, once the state commits act of terror against its own citizens, they could be seen to be violating the citizens’ trust and rights as a legitimate government. As such, they should be taken to task by the international community. For instance, the UN has been criticized for intervening late in the Rwanda and Cambodian Crisis resulting in massive deaths.
  • In times of humanitarian crisis and disasters that could potentially snowball into a conflict, it is only right that the international community comes in to help them, especially after they have made a formal request. This is to ensure that they do not violate the sovereignty of another nation in the process. The country should not be left to settle their own.


Back to the A’levels H1 General Paper 2016 Paper 1 Solutions

Showing 17 comments
  • Bobby

    Hi there,
    I would like to check if my points were ok.

    My main point in the introduction was that countries experiencing conflict should not be left to sort their own problems.
    My opposing view was because its the responsibility of the countries in conflict to solve their own problems and foreign aid incurs huge costs on the foreign aid side. I talked about the Iraq Kuwait war when US intervened.( not sure if this is relevant)
    My supporting view was that some conflicts threaten global security because of the severity of conflicts. North Korea and South Korea and how the north is conducting nuclear weapons to provoke other countries. Hence international organisations have to intervene to condemn .
    My opposing view was that countries don’t want foreign presence because they may place a political leverage against them and countries want to show that they can solve their own problems (independence) Example, UAE was reluctant to ask for help when Iraq invaded Kuwait
    My supporting view was that some problems need third parties to step in because it deals with countries different ideological differences. So no consensus can be reached between countries in conflict. Example is International Court of Justice used to deal with the problem of Pedra Branca and I contrasted with the spratly islands conflict where till today countries still fighting over it.
    My supporting view was that some conflicts have gone on for too long and the consequences are undesirable. I talked about how conflicts dragged through generations and people no longer knew what they were fighting for for example the Kashmir conflict. The two countries cannot move on so foreign aid might seem useful here.
    Thanks a lot

    • Christine Chen

      Hello there, thanks for writing in. Not bad for your points, definitely relevant and you have helped me add a new perspective to this essay. Do not worry about this question, since I think you would have done pretty well.

  • 98liner

    I only defined conflict as social, politcal or territorial disputes between countries or in a country itself. So my points were:

    Yes, should be left alone
    1. Any foreign intervention will violate the national sovereignty of a country. Country should thus solve its own problems.
    2. Foreign intervention could exacerbate the situation if the foreign countries provide help due to their own strategic and vested interests.

    No, should not be left alone
    1. Foreign intervention allows other countries to broker an agreement between disputing countries, allowing them to resolve the conflict in a peaceful way via diplomacy.
    2. Foreign aid should be given to victims of the conflict as it is a moral obligation, to reduce negative impacts of the conflict. Not providing aid will cause more people to die instead as the country itself is focused in fighting the war.

    May I ask for your opinions on my points? I’m afraid that I had hijack the question instead.
    Thank you! 🙂

    • Christine Chen

      you have some similar points to myself, so I guess u did not hijack the question. Do not worry! Also, it is good that you have expanded the scope of the essay to include intervention of other forms as well 🙂 your points are all valid, how well you do would depend on the insights, evaluation and the bell curve alr. Most of my students actually did this question so I think its quite a popular one.

      • 98liner

        Thank you so much for your comment! 🙂 In my school, this question isn’t very popular so I couldn’t check with anyone if my points is valid. But now I feel more secure. 🙂 Thanks!

  • LX

    Hi I would like to check my points because I took a different stand from most of my peers

    It should not be left to themselves
    1. Blatant infringement of human right by oppressive governments. Given that it is the government that plays the role of antagonist, the masses can only rely on the foreign power. E.g. Muammar Gaddafi

    It should be left to themselves
    1. Inefficiency of int’l organisations due to structural rigidity that often make any efforts to intercede lukewarm and tokenistic. E.g. ASEAN policy of non-interference in Rohingya conflict
    2. Vested interest that aggravates the problem E.g. US & Russia intervene Syria
    3. Every country has unique problems which they are the most cognisant of, thus should be left to themselves. E.g.Irish Republican Army + Tamil Tigers due to lack of platform to address their concerns followed by how such conflicts are resolved


    • Christine Chen

      yes no problem with these points, in fact some of these points overlap with what I have written. Thanks for adding a fresh angle to this question through your critique of the effectiveness of international organizations. Good luck with the rest of the papers.

  • beatrice

    hello! mind helping me check if my points were okay pls?

    i defined conflict as protests or social unrest and mentioned that problems include political instability, economic meltdown, ethnic strife and humanitarian crisis.

    1) i justified how dichotomy between national interest and global interest led to the thinking that countries should be left alone to sort out their problems! i gave the Kyoto Protocol as example and argued that slow growth resulted in social unrest and hence US decided to delay ratifying the treaty. (not sure if this example was okay though)

    2) i showed how in times when political instability results in social unrest/human rights/livelihood of people being compromised, foreign presence is appropriate and crucial. i went on to give the controversy of 1MDB as example, showing how the transfer of 682m into the Prime Minister Najib’s persona bank account created tension and social unrest since its reasons were poorly justified. It then resulted in 7 countries investigating this issue and this made the PM more answerable to his people. Thus, in times like this, countries should not be left to deal with their own problems.

    3) i mentioned how problems faced by certain countries are often of a global scale and hence foreign presence is actually crucial and effective. i mentioned how Norway and Sweden are countries that are consistent in their providence of foreign aid to developing countries/countries in need, which significantly helped those countries tackle with problems like poverty/poor infrastructure etc. in this paragraph i also talked about how in times of natural disasters especially, foreign presence in terms of direct aid is crucial in recovering a country to its normal state and gave the tsunami and earthquake experienced by Japan in 2011 as example, showing how foreign aid helped speed up recovering process.

    4) i justified how while foreign aid is crucial in situations mentioned above, it is also important not to forge a too reliant relationship between countries as countries ought to be self-sufficient to a certain extent and aid or influence given in excess or too overwhelming respectively might in turn be detrimental. i gave Ghana that has accepted much foreign aid as example since it is a country that is highly reliant on such aid provided, where its own problems are not entirely resolved entirely or effectively by its own government.

    i feel that all in all i generalized conflicts that arise as protests/social unrest, not sure if this affects the scope of my essay or whether i fulfilled the question requirement D:

    • Christine Chen

      Hello there, it is entirely up to you on how you would like to interpret what conflicts are. I think you have addressed the scope sufficiently through the points that you have given, as you have touched on the issue of sovereignty, human rights, and even define intervention not just to be in the military sense, but also in terms of foreign aid. Good job.


    Hi I wanted to ask if my points were okay!

    – countries should be left on their own as forigen intervention may backfire (bush in Iraq and eventually leading to ISIS)

    – countries should be left on their own due to sovereign right (but I have no examples for this sigh

    -however in cases where the country does not want to/is unable to solve the conflict (Rwanda genocide), foreign intervention is necessary

    – countries should not be left on their own since their problems have a global impact (like obviously terrorism right? But once again no concrete examples sigh)

    – countries should not be left on their own when the foreign countries were the ones who caused the problem (brits in Sri Lanka favour Tamils – Tamils Vs Sinhalese conflict – Tamil Tigers)

    Concluded by saying, in the name of humanity, countries should not be left alone.

    • Christine Chen

      yes these points are good enough and valid. Good job. Just feel that if you would like to discuss on sovereignty issues, you would have to give me situations or cases in which the infringement of sovereignty would be alright.

      • ALEVELS

        Thank you! 🙂

  • sandy

    Can I ask regarding the grading using the bell curve, is the bell curve based on overall performance of the whole level, or based on the performance of a particular qn done? Thank you!

    • Christine Chen

      based on question.

  • Eva

    Hello! I would like to check my points please:
    I interpreted conflicts as political and social problems and my stand is to disagree that countries should not be left to solve their own problems because
    1. Countries experiencing chronic conflicts often have corrupted governments and are incapable leaders that are only interested in maintaining their own rule instead of the welfare of the citizens Eg. The polpot when Cambodian government launched a military coup against its own people . And Muammar Gaddafi’s use of state sponsored terrorism

    2.countries experiencing conflicts should not be left alone because they often have limited economic capablilties and negotiation power thus making it difficult for them to end the vicious cycle without the help of the international community Eg. Russia Vs Ukraine

    3. The international community should offer help for a country in conflict as they often have more experience and resources in handling similar situations . Eg. Humanitarian aid during Haiti earthquake
    And my opposing view is that the help provided may backfire due to differences in social situations between countries.
    Eg. US involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq

    I wasn’t too confident about my language so I really want to know if at least my points are okay
    Thank you!

    • Christine Chen

      Hi Eva, your points are ok. For point 3, you may want to ask yourself whether a humanitarian disaster would constitute a conflict? You may need to frame this point a bit differently. Also, for the first point, you may wish to elaborate a little on the human rights angle so that you could do better.

  • Chua

    Just a note of thanks since I read up on prelim trends, and I’m glad I did since this question came out for ‘A’ Levels. Thanks a lot! 🙂

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