President Obama says he respects the sovereignty of nations but he doesn't want stronger countries bullying weaker ones, and there's a fine line to walk between intervening in a conflict and allowing the process to be worked out on its own.
"It's important for the sovereignty of nations to be respected and to resolve conflicts between nations through diplomacy and through international organizations in trying to set up international norms that countries want to meet," Obama said at a press conference at the close of the G-8 Summit in L'Aquila, Italy.
Obama said there are always exceptions to rules, citing the case of the country of Rwanda, a country in Africa that suffered from a massive genocide in the 1990's when the Hutus, an ethnic group in the country, began persecuting another ethnic group, the Tutsis.
Obama recounted a story he heard from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown about a 12-year- old boy who had perished in the conflict. He had told his mother just before being fatally shot not to worry because the U.N. would save them.
"That voice has to be heard in international relations," Obama said. But he later added that the United Nations, as an international organization, needs to be fixed.
"There's a sense when it comes to big tough problems, the U.N. General Assembly is not always working as effectively and rapidly as it needs to," Obama said. "I'm a strong supporter of the U.N. and I said so in this meeting, but it has to be reformed and revitalized."
The president did tell the reporters that any decision for action, in any scenario, will never be a "neat decision" because "there are some in the international community who believe that state sovereignty is sacrosanct and you never intervene under any circumstances in somebody's internal affairs."