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20 August 2008
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In this issue:

I. Georgia-Russia Crisis and R2P

II. UN Deputy-Secretary-General Migiro mentions R2P in statement at American Bar Association

III. R2P in the News

IV. Civil Society and R2P


V. Related Reports

I. Georgia-Russia Crisis and R2P

The following articles show references to R2P and humanitarian intervention in the context of the Russian Georgia crisis, including Russian Minister of Foreign Affaires Sergey Lavrovs invocation of the Responsibility to Protect as one of the justifications for Russias military intervention to protect Russian citizens in South Ossetia. In addition, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin described Georgias actions against populations in South Ossetia as enocide.

The R2P norm calls for collective action through the Security Council should national authorities anifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The norm addresses the responsibility of the State and of the international community inside a countrys borders, in cases of mass atrocities, should peaceful diplomatic and humanitarian means measures have been carried out but failed to halt abuses against civilians, and strictly through UN action.

This situation raises concerns about whether the R2P norm as codified in the World Summit Outcome Document is applicable to Georgia, and whether the degree of threat to Russians in Georgia represented actual or imminent mass atrocities to the scale pertinent to the R2P norm.

For more analysis of the misapplication of R2P in the Russia-Georgia crisis, please refer to the following analysis by the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect (also, see below)

1. Georgia-Russia Crisis and the Responsibility to protect: Background Note
Global Centre for Responsibility to protect
19 August 2008

The Russian government has argued that its military operations in Georgia in August 2008 were conducted for humanitarian purposes. Russias President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin have described Georgias actions against populations in South Ossetia as enocide. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov argued that Russias use of force was an exercise of its responsibility to protect. ()

This invocation of R2P by a senior Russian official not only as a principle enshrined in the Russian Constitution but also the term as it is understood in the context of the United Nations reflects the moral force of the responsibility to protect as a new normative framework to address global concerns. But there is a risk that the norm will be misapplied by governments to justify their unilateral actions unrelated to the protection of lives from mass atrocities, or in situations where the security of the civilian population has been threatened, but not to a degree where a large-scale military intervention would be justified. And in this instance, R2P the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity as agreed to by all UN member states in the General Assembly 2005 World Summit Outcome Document is, in fact, misapplied.

R2P, as codified in 2005 by the General Assembly, is not a legitimate basis for Russias military actions in Georgia for the following reasons:

1. The primary ground stated for intervention the protection of Russian citizens abroad is beyond the scope of the R2P norm

The statement by Foreign Minister Lavrov blurs the distinction between the responsibilities of a state to protect its populations inside its borders, and the responsibilities that a state maintains for populations outside its borders. The R2P norm is about the responsibility of a state to protect populations within its own borders, the measures that the international community must take to assist that state in protecting its populations, and the international communitys responsibility to take action through the United Nations when the state in whose borders the populations are found manifestly fails to protect them. The 2005 Outcome Document does not confer authority
on an individual country to take direct action to protect its nationals located outside its own borders.

The exercise of military force by a country to protect its nationals has traditionally been justified as a measure of self-defense (since 1945, under Article 51 of the UN Charter). Russias actions should be judged according to this standard whether Russia was legitimately acting in self- defense and not whether Russia was acting under the principles of responsibility to protect as set out in 2005 by the General Assembly in the Outcome Document.

2. The scale and intensity of the military operation went beyond the direct protection of the South Ossetian populations allegedly under threat

If a military action were to be conducted to protect populations from mass atrocity crimes, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to protect (GCR2P) believes that such an intervention would only be legitimate if it is tailored to ensure the physical protection of that population. Russias intervention was tactically and geographically well beyond the scope of what would be needed to protect the physical security of the South Ossetian populations from mass atrocity crimes. The requirement that an operation be proportional to achieve the human protection goal was not explicitly set forth in the 2005 Outcome Document, but it is consistent with international humanitarian law and is one of the precautionary principles that the GCR2P believes should be applied to analyze any claim that an intervention is necessary and legitimate to protect populations from mass atrocity crimes.

It is precisely to assess the necessity and legitimacy of any military action purportedly
undertaken to protect populations from mass atrocities that the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, the UN High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, and Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his In Larger Freedom report to the 2005 World Summit all recommended that the Security Council adopt precautionary principles. Although UN member states failed to agree on their inclusion in the 2005 Outcome Document, some are implied within the R2P agreement, and the invocation of R2P in the context of the Georgia- Russia crisis proves their continued relevance. The Global Centre believes that each must be explicitly satisfied before any incursion could be accepted as legitimate under the responsibility to protect. The questions that should be asked are:

- Is there an imminent or actual threat of genocide or other mass atrocity crime?
- Is the purpose of the intervention to prevent or other halt such mass atrocities?
- Would peaceful measures be inadequate to ensure protection of the population at risk?
- Is the action proportional, that is, specifically tailored to achieve the result of halting or
averting mass atrocity crimes?
- On balance, would the intervention do more good than harm?

3. In the absence of UN Security Council approval, there is no legal authority for an R2P- based military intervention

The 2005 Outcome Document makes it clear beyond argument that any country or group of countries seeking to apply forceful means to address an R2P situation where another country is manifestly failing to protect its people and peaceful means are inadequate must take that action through the Security Council.

The Russia-Georgia case highlights the dangers and risks of states, whether individually or in a coalition, interpreting global norms unilaterally and launching military action without Security Council authorization. The sense of moral outrage at reports of civilians being killed and ethnically cleansed can have the unintended effect of clouding judgment on the best response, which is another reason to channel action collectively through the United Nations.


The Russian military operations in Georgia were not carried out consistently with the agreement of the responsibility to protect taken by the heads of state and government sitting in September 2005 as the United Nations General Assembly. To comply with the terms of the World Summit Outcome Document, if it had evidence that populations were threatened by mass atrocity crimes, Russia should have worked through the United Nations, using appropriate peaceful diplomatic and humanitarian means to help protect those people thought to be at risk, with force only being considered as a last resort, and with the approval of the Security Council.

The protection of civilian populations in South Ossetia and elsewhere in the region remains an urgent concern. All parties to any armed conflict have an obligation to protect civilian populations under international humanitarian law including the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols. Georgia and Russia should also uphold their obligations as parties to relevant international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. If the doctrine of the responsibility to protect is to mean anything in this context, it is not as a basis to justify unilateral force but as a reminder that the longstanding principles of international human rights and humanitarian law should be upheld.


2. A Responsibility to protect?
Elena Jurado
New Statesman
15 August 2008

Elena Jurado is the head of research at the international thinktank Policy Network writing in her own capacity.

There is a curious irony in the wests interpretation of the five-day war between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway province of South Ossetia. In much recent analysis, Russia is depicted as a neo-imperialist state, eager to wreak havoc on the wests carefully constructed system of international rules. (...)

Vladimir Putin was among the world leaders who, at the UN World Summit of 2005, endorsed the related doctrine of a Responsibility to protect the idea that sovereign states have a Responsibility to protect their own citizens, but that when they are unwilling or unable to do so, that responsibility must be borne by the international community. Underlying the principle was a novel appreciation that attacks on civilians can constitute a threat to international peace and security. If this doctrine has become a stumbling block in relations between the powers, it is not because certain states have refused to endorse it but because the definition of what constitutes international peace and security remains contested.

The boundaries of the Responsibility to protect principle have been tested in both Kosovo and, more recently, South Ossetia, where minority populations have sought independence for their territories on grounds of thnic cleansing. Rejected by Russia, Kosovos unilateral declaration of independence in February 2008 was regarded by many in the west as a test-case of the doctrine. As in the case of Sudan and Zimbabwe, Russian objections did not strike at the heart of the principle of conditional sovereignty; they were cast in terms of the need for greater scrutiny in the application of the doctrine. In a vain effort to stop the formal recognition of Kosovos independence by the west, Russian diplomats warned of the dangerous precedent Kosovo would set for efforts to resolve inter-ethnic conflicts in other parts of the world. This week, as Russia pursued its attack on Georgia, it turned those warnings into bombs.

However, by focusing attention on Russias rossly disproportionate use of force in response to Georgias own military assault on South Ossetia, western commentators have overlooked an important diplomatic development. Notwithstanding their disenfranchisement in the case of Kosovo, Russian policy-makers have used the language of Responsibility to protect to justify their invasion of Georgia. Vladimir Putin could not have been clearer when he declared that Georgia had ost the right to rule South Ossetia on account of the umanitarian catastrophe that has take place there. We might choose to ignore these comments as mere propaganda. But as long as Russia couches its interventions in this language, we can ensure at least a measure of accountability for Russias actions.

Ultimately, if the Responsibility to protect principle is to facilitate, rather than disrupt, international cooperation in the resolution of ethnic conflicts, it will be essential for the major global players to negotiate a common understanding of its content. So far these negotiations have taken place behind closed doors within an exclusive group of western states. As I argue in a forthcoming paper for Policy Network, the extent to which Russia and other emerging powers agree to play by international rules will depend on the willingness of the west to integrate them into a shared international order. President Bushs threat this week to reeze Russia out of international institutions in retaliation for Russias actions in Georgia would therefore represent a dangerous set-back.


4. Q & A on Georgia
Clifford J. Levy and James Traub
The New York Times
12 August 2008

Clifford J. Levy, Moscow bureau chief, and James Traub, a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and part-time director of policy at the Global Centre on the Responsibility to Protect, answered questions from readers about the Russian-Georgian conflict.

Q. How reliable are reports of atrocities committed by Georgian troops in the South Ossetia capital? The Russians are saying that several thousand civilians have been killed, including women and children being run over by tanks.

A. Hudson: The Russians and the Ossetians have been floating a series of appalling claims since the hostilities began. But are they true? This is a region in which virtually all military acts are denounced as "ethnic cleansing," if not "genocide." Russia has even sought to invoke the doctrine known as "Responsibility to protect," arguing that troops invaded Georgia in order to prevent atrocities against Ossetians. Since it seems that Georgia had already withdrawn its troops from Ossetia, this was probably a specious claim.

But the fact that the reports cannot be taken at face value doesn't mean that they're without foundation. Independent eyewitnesses have confirmed that major damage was done in the Ossetian capital of Tshkanvili, perhaps by Georgian artillery. Many civilians may have died. But it will be some while yet before these claims can be confirmed or, for that matter, before we have an entirely clear idea of how the fighting started.
-James Traub (...)


5. Interview by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov
Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Russian Federation
09 August 2008

() S.Lavrov: When the peacekeepers are inside the zone of conflict, the civilians whom the peacekeepers must protect are in the zone of conflict when the civilians side is bombed, is shelled from outside the source of this attack must be targeted, so that this massacre is not repeated. About 15 hundred civilians have been killed by some count which is being verified now. At least 15 Russian peacekeepers are dead. Some 50 are wounded. There are reports, as I said, that the wounded peacekeepers are finished off by the Georgians, which is a gross violation of all Geneva conventions and the international humanitarian law. And I would just say that people in Europe, people in the West should not perceive it differently. (...)

My President yesterday was very clear. He said that under the Constitution he is obliged to protect the life and dignity of Russian citizens, especially when they find themselves in the armed conflict. And today he reiterated that the peace enforcement operation enforcing peace on one of the parties which violated its own obligations would continue until we achieve the results. According to our Constitution there is also Responsibility to protect the term which is very widely used in the UN when people see some trouble in Africa or in any remote part of other regions. But this is not Africa to us, this is next door. This is the area, where Russian citizens live. So the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the laws of the Russian Federation make it absolutely unavoidable to us to exercise Responsibility to protect. ()

Question: You mentioned there was a sense of shock in Washington on the way that things have developed. Given of this situation is so unpredictable arent you concerned you are involved in a major conflict with a country which is a would be NATO-member and a very close-eye of you former cold-war foe, Washington.

S.Lavrov If NATO is ready to welcome such a regime in its ranks, it would be interesting to see how this is done. I do not think we are on a brink of a war. We are limited in all our actions to do things. Responsibility to protect our citizens under the Russian constitution and the responsibilities of the peacekeepers to keep this particular case when peace was raped to restore peace. Peace is required and that is what we are going to achieve but we would not go beyond this. (...)


More information on the impact on the conflict on civilians:

ICC to investigate Georgian conflict, Reuters, 20 August 2008,

No signs of Russia claim of genocide by Georgia in South Ossetia, Los
Angeles Times, 18 August 2008,,0,3381598.story

Georgia: International Groups Should Send Missions, Human Rights Watch,
17 August 2008,

II. Deputy-Secretary-General Migiro mentions R2P in statement at American Bar Association

1. Daily Press Briefing By the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General
United Nations
Department of Public Information
11 August 2008

On 9 August, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro spoke at the American Bar Association in New York calling on lawyers to play a greater role in guaranteeing that countries live up to their commitments to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. She cited the creation of the International Criminal Court and the 2005 commitment by world leaders on the Responsibility to protect populations from these crimes as important milestones. She urged the following:

() World leaders pledged in 2005 to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Now, the need to make this responsibility to protect fully operational represents a major priority and challenge for the United Nations and for our Member States. I urge you to press for the close attention to the issue within your own country. ()

Source :

See full speech at:

III. R2P in the News

1. Humanitarian Impulses
Gary J. Bass
The New York Times
15 August 2008

The long overdue sight of Radovan Karadzic in The Hague facing trial for genocide is a useful reminder of wars past. In 1995, after three and a half years of killing, an American-led NATO bombing campaign helped stop Karadzics atrocities and turned the Bosnian Serb leader into a fugitive. But do the humanitarian interventions typified by Americas interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo have a future? Even as Darfur bleeds, Iraq has become a grim object lesson in the dangers of foreign adventures. The former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright recently wrote that any of the worlds necessary interventions in the decade before the invasion [of Iraq] in places like Haiti and the Balkans would seem impossible in todays climate. (...)

Humanitarian intervention, in other words, is not the property of the United States or the generation of liberal hawks who championed Balkan interventions in the 1990s. For better or worse, it is best understood as an idea thats common to the big democracies on both sides of the Atlantic. Canada has promoted the principle of an international esponsibility to protect endangered civilians. Europe has a fresh crop of foreign ministers who following their 19th-century predecessors support humanitarian intervention: Bernard Kouchner of France argued for delivering aid to cyclone victims in Myanmar by force if necessary, and David Miliband of Britain championed the faltering United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur on a February trip to Beijing. And in Berlin, Barack Obama won German cheers and applause by saying, he genocide in Darfur shames the conscience of us all.r
Of course, the real test will come when George W. Bush is gone and Americans and Europeans have to turn those cheers into policy. Its not at all clear that European publics are outraged by abuses in Darfur the way they were once outraged by massacres in Greece, Syria and Bulgaria. When the next president takes office, America will still have troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and will inevitably be more eager for European soldiers to deploy in Afghanistan than in Darfur. In August 1992, a promising presidential candidate named Bill Clinton said, f the horrors of the Holocaust taught us anything, it is the high cost of remaining silent and paralyzed in the face of genocide. As the Rwandans found out, its easier to state historical lessons than to apply them.


2. Humanitarian Aid Politicized
Jon Templeman
Policy Innovations
11 August 2008

The damage done to Myanmar by Cyclone Nargis this past May raised familiar problems for the humanitarian community. Almost overnight, governments and NGOs mobilized to help a poor and isolated community deal with the immediate costs of disaster, and the longer-term problems of sickness, displacement, and food shortage.

What set this disaster aside was the resistance that aid organizations faced from the Burmese government. In the days following the cyclone, UN food aid was seized, and aid workers were denied visas. A spokesman for the UN World Food Program called the delays "unprecedented," and Bernard Kouchner, French foreign minister and founder of Doctors Without Borders, suggested that the esponsibility to protect be invoked to help Myanmar's stricken population even without the consent of the government. (...)

Kouchner's suggestion that able governments and aid agencies invoke a "Responsibility to protect" goes to the heart of this debate. Diplomats to the UN from China, Russia, Vietnam, and South Africa denounced his suggestion, reading in it a measure of hypocrisy, and arguing that, even in situations as serious as the one in Myanmar, a state's right to sovereignty cannot be discounted. Others saw the probable tragedy of delay as a justification to violate Myanmar's sovereignty. (...)

Fortunately, according to a report in the New York Times, the human cost of the junta's initial skittishness was not as grave as anticipated. And with some attention still focused on Myanmar, it may be that, in this instance, the wait-and-see attitude adopted by most aid organizations was the right one to take.

And yet, for NGOs and governments alike, the lessons of recent disasters have been harsh. They operate in a world where aid is viewed as a political commodity, however well intentioned the donors may be. The human costs of this politicization may be significant; certainly, as swelling urban centers make disasters more deadly, it poses a crucial policy problem for aid organizations and international diplomacy.

New York Times Report:

IV. Civil Society and R2P

1. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect: Executive Director Announcement

WFM-IGP, founding partner of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, is pleased to announce that Mnica Serrano will begin as Executive Director of the Global Centre beginning on 1 January 2009. Monica will be taking leave from El Colegio de Mxico where she is a Research Professor who has written and lectured extensively on international, regional, and national security issues. She has been directing research projects on North America, Regional Security and the Human Rights Regime in Latin America. She completed her doctorate at Oxford University in International Relations and has maintained both a teaching and research role there as well.

The Global Centre has also been assembling a small team that has already begun convening meetings in New York and bringing out publications. Nicole Deller has been working from the outset as the director of programs. This spring, two other staff members were brought on board: Nicola Reindorp, director of advocacy, former director of the Oxfam UN Office, (2002 to 2007); and Jim Traub, working part-time as director of policy while maintaining his position at the New York Times Magazine. Rounding out the team is Savita Pawnday, the office and outreach coordinator.

2. East African Law Society: Communiqu of the consultation on the evolving peace process in Burundi: A civil society call to Action
East African Law Society
22-23 July

The following communiqu is the result of a civil society meeting entitled he Emerging Conflict Challenge in Burundi: A Civil Society Call to Action which took place in Bujumbura, Burundi on 22-23 July. The meeting aimed at developing a coordinated civil society approach towards addressing the current peace and security crisis as well as longer-term challenged to democracy in Burundi. It also aimed at developing strategies on how to best work with the East African Community to bring about a peaceful resolution, including targeting the AU and call upon it to act decisively. The current situation in Burundi also offered an important opportunity to examine the R2P principles in a conflict-specific situation.

The Consultation involved key civil society groups, which allowed them to be at the forefront of the resolution process and gave them the opportunity to contribute effectively to the international implementation of the R2P doctrine, the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi, signed on 28th August 2000, and the Comprehensive Ceasefire Peace Agreement, signed on 8th September 2006 in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.

Included in the call to action to the East African Community, the AU, the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, the Great Lakes Regional Peace Initiative on Burundi, and the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, is the following call to

romote adherence to the Responsibility to Protect principles and appeal to the government of Burundi to accept its responsibility to protect its population against genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and war crimes; and to recognize the role of civil society in the implementation of these principles

To view full communiqu:

V. Featured Reports

1. The United Nations and the Responsibility to Protect
Edward Luck
Stanley Foundation
19 August 2008

The following report entitled he United Nations and the Responsibility to Protect was written by Edward C. Luck, the Senior Vice President and Director of Studies at the International Peace Institute and Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General at the Assistant Secretary-General level, in which capacity he primarily focuses on the Responsibility to Protect. He is currently on public service leave as Professor of Practice in International and Public Affairs of the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, where he remains Director of the Center on International Organization.


At the 2005 World Summit, the assembled heads of state and government agreed that R2P rests on three pillars: 1) the responsibility of the state to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity, and from their incitement; 2) the commitment of the international community to assist states in meeting these obligations; and 3) the responsibility of the member states to respond in a timely and decisive manner when a state is manifestly failing to provide such protection. Today, the UN member states are united in their support for the goals of R2P but less so on how to achieve them. The secretary-generals approach is arrow but deep, resisting appeals to broaden the scope beyond the four crimes and violations agreed at the 2005 Summit, while proposing that a variety of policy tools under Chapters VI, VII, and VIII of the UN Charter be utilized to prevent, deter, and respond to serious violations.


2. Military Intervention and the Indeterminacy of the Responsibility to Protect
Jean-Francois Thibault
Human Security Journal
Summer 2008

Jean-Franois Thibault is an Associate Professor of Political Science in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Moncton (Canada), he is a Fellow of the Rseau francophone de recherche sur les oprations de paix (CRIUM, University of Montreal, Canada) and of the International Peace and Security Program of the Institut qubcois des hautes tudes internationales (Laval University, Canada). He is currently writing a book on the Responsibility to Protect. The author is grateful to Alicia Cleaver for her much appreciated linguistic revision of this text.

In the following paper entitled ilitary Intervention and the Indeterminacy of the Responsibility to Protect, Mr. Thibault looks at the following questions:
What should member states of the so-called "international community" do when one of them does not assume its functions of protecting its own population, but instead abuses its power and uses all the means at its disposal to foment, foster or let perpetrate massive and systematic human rights violations? How shall they collectively react "in the common interest" to put an end to these atrocities?

Full text :

3. Resistance to Genocidal Governments: Should Private Actors Break Laws to Protect Civilians from Mass Atrocity?
Chad J. Hazlett
Washington College of Law / American University
18 August 2008

Chad J. Hazlett, author of the following report, is Director of Protection at the Genocide Intervention Network, a non-profit organization working to build a domestic constituency for the Responsibility to Protect while providing means by which private individuals can directly support protection activities on the ground in areas of ongoing or potential genocide and mass atrocity.


One month into the 1994 Rwandan genocide, U.S. President Bill Clintons National Security Advisors considered options to jam, destroy, or counter Radio Tlvision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), the radio station used by Hutu extremists to incite and direct machete-wielding mobs. The administration ultimately decided not to take any action against RTLM. The primary reason doing so would violate international communications law.

Now suppose that where the U.S. government declined to act, a wealthy individual hired private contractors to jam RTLMs transmissions, in violation of communications law and other laws. Such an action may arguably be legal, perhaps on the grounds that the jus cogens norm prohibiting genocide supersedes international communications law. It is possible that no legal action would have been taken against the actor involved. For private donors and contractors, however, taking this action in real time would have required a decision to willfully break laws and take aggressive, invasive action normally thought to be the sole right of states.

This article explores the conditions under which private actors individuals or organizations acting without government authority are justified in breaking the law to protect civilians from mass atrocity. Such actions could range from training civilians to evade danger to destroying or disabling equipment, to hiring ercenaries to use deadly force. The article posits that while states should remain the rotectors of choice, there are cases where laws that would prevent private actors from protecting civilians are unjust and can be broken with caution. The article also proposes a set of ust-case criteria drawn from civil disobedience theory and the Responsibility to Protect, offered as a starting point to determine when such actions are justified.

Full report :

Many thanks to Greg Cohen for compiling this listserv

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