Speech: R2P and RwP After Libya and Syria
23 August 2012
Keynote Address by Professor the Hon. Gareth Evans, Co-Chair, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P), to a Workshop: Responsibility While Protecting: What’s Next?, organized by the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P), Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) and Stanley Foundation in Rio de Janeiro on 23 August 2012.
We have to acknowledge that the UN Security Council paralysis over Syria, and at least some of the circumstances which have brought that about, have regenerated some serious international scepticism about the whole Responsibility to Protect (R2P) project. (…) Issues have been raised which do have to be addressed. The Brazilian ‘Responsibility While Protecting’ (RWP) proposal has made an important contribution to doing just that, and today’s discussion – designed to help further refine and develop the RWP concept, especially in the context of next month’s UNGA debate on R2P – could not be more timely.
(…) Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon may have been gilding the lily a little in September last year when he said that ‘No government questions the principle’, but he was not exaggerating at all when he said that now ‘Our debates are about how, not whether to implement the Responsibility to Protect.’
But, and it’s a very big ‘but’ indeed – to come now directly to the subject of today’s discussion – we have to acknowledge that a good deal of the debate about how to implement R2P in practice, at least at the sharp end, when prevention has manifestly failed and violence is actually occurring – is still very fierce and very divisive. (…)
Part of the reason for hesitation in Syria – and certainly the unwillingness of anyone in the Council to begin to argue for direct coercive military intervention – is that the geopolitics of the Syrian crisis are very different. (…)
But there’s more to it than that. We have to explain why it is that it took until February this year for the Security Council to even formally resolve to condemn the violence, and why there has been no consensus whatever even about non-military coercive measures. (…) We have to frankly recognize that there has been some infection of the whole R2P concept by the perception, accurate or otherwise, that the civilian protection mandate granted by the Council, with no dissenting voices, was manifestly exceeded by that military operation. (…)
It is directly to address these concerns that Brazil has advanced its ‘Responsibility While Protecting’ idea. (…)
So let me focus my remaining remarks on what I would regard as the two major substantive new elements in the RWP proposal, and the two big themes on which I think we should concentrate in our discussion today – viz. first, a set of criteria or guidelines to be fully debated and taken into account before the Security Council mandates any use of military force; and secondly, for some kind of enhanced monitoring and review processes which would enable such mandates to be seriously debated by all Council members during their implementation phase. (…)
Read the full transcript of the speech.