This article will argue that there is indeed 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 the context of this article, “attacking” would mean to criticise or override the values of foreign cultures and legal systems. This aforementioned context of this argument will be divided into two sections, as the question itself outlines: firstly that there is justification for attacking the values enshrined in foreign legal systems if such values infringe or endanger the rights and lives of humans both within and outside the country in question. Secondly, there is justification for attacking the ideas of right and wrong found in the cultures of other nations in the case that there is a conflict of laws, also known as ‘private international law’.
Infringement of Rights
Firstly, there is justification for attacking foreign legal systems’ values if said values infringe or endanger the rights and lives of human beings. An example of this can be found in a country which may, even in these modern times, believe in colonialism and slavery. This clearly infringes the rights of basic freedom and safety of individuals, and therefore should be a value which ought to be criticised by the wider international community. Nations such as Myanmar are controlled by a military dictatorship which infringes the freedoms and access to necessities of countless ethnic minorities, whilst international condemnation and trade sanctions imposed by other nations may have been able to trigger at least an incremental change in Myanmar’s government’s policies towards a more progressive direction. On the other hand, one may argue that national sovereignty should not ever be interfered with because such condemnation or sanctions may lead to further international conflict, or even an outcome where the nation in question is relatively economically self-sufficient and simply decides to ignore such penalties given by the international community. This would lead to a loss in credibility of international organisations such as the UN who would have failed to mitigate the impacts of oppressive policies on minorities, as well as lead to further oppression of said minorities by authoritarian governments as previously discussed. Despite this, it is likewise ever more important for there to be international recognition and condemnation of such oppression of humans at a national level whether or not it is successful in the short run, as it is the momentum of public attention that is needed for these and similar issues to be tackled and mitigated in the relative long run. Such oppressive behaviour by governments can also establish precedents for other dictatorships which may adopt such policies to gain and maintain governmental control over their given nation, much like how Mussolini’s Fascism inspired Hitler’s Nazism, in an extreme sense.
Conflict of Laws
Secondly, there is also justification for attacking the ideas of right and wrong found in the cultures of other nations in the case that there is a conflict of laws, insofar as a degree of comparative criticism is required in cases where the values of foreign legal systems and cultures become relevant in domestic affairs. An example of this can be found in a border conflict where Person A standing in Country A fires a gun at Person B who is standing in Country B and Person B dies as a result; and whilst Country A may have a law which rules that there is a death penalty for murder, Country B does not. If Person A (the murderer) is tried in Country B, Country B is reasonably justified to argue that, due to the immoral and irreversible nature of the death penalty, Person A should be imprisoned rather than executed. This allows the country with legal grounds in this case to exercise a degree of jurisdiction and decision as to the judgment of the case at hand. However, others may argue that since Country A is also significantly involved in this case, Country A’s values of the death penalty should be appreciated by the courts deciding on this case. Solely relying on Country B’s court’s application of their own rules would be unfair for Country A’s cultural and legal values, and can further impact Country A’s public view of its legal system in a potentially negative and undermining way as it has lost a degree of international legal power and jurisdiction over a case which concerns their own territory. Despite this, it can still be said that it is important for Country B to override Country A’s cultural values of rights and wrongs when a legal decision may establish national or even international precedents and implications. A judgment to sentence Person A to capital punishment can likewise have lasting and negative impacts on Country B’s future murder cases and result in society becoming more brutalised as an inevitable link between the law and violence is formed, and this societal impact can be established as precedents for other foreign countries around the world. It is also important to consider the moral aspects and subsequent arguments against the death penalty for moral reasons, which is undeniably a reasonable explanation for Country B to exercise its rule of not sentencing capital punishment for murder, even in such a case which involves the conflict of laws as aforementioned.
To conclude, it can be argued that there is reasonable 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, especially with respect to circumstances of oppressive government rule and the conflict of laws.