4 August 2009 News Update (updated 27 August)
In this issue: Articles and op-eds from the General Assembly debate on RtoP (updated 27 August); US House Committee on Foreign Affairs holds debate on Peacekeeping Operations
I. Articles and op-eds from the General Assembly debate on RtoP
- WALL STREET JOURNAL: US BACKS IMPLEMENTING UN DOCTRINE AGAINST GENOCIDE
- EL IMPARCIAL: LA “RESPONSIBILIDAD DE PROTEGER” EN LA CONCIENCIA DE LA ONU (SPANISH)
- THE TIMES OF INDIA: UN BODIES SHOULD REFLECT CONTEMPORARY REALITIES
- VOICE OF AMERICA: SHOULD THE UN REACT TO EVERY COUNTRY IN CRISIS?
- REUTERS BLOGS: SAVIORS OR CONQUERORS?
- ELPAIS: MONICA SERRANO OP-ED—LA RESPONSABILIDAD DE PROTEGER (SPANISH)
- XINHUA: CHINESE DIPLOMAT: IMPLEMENTING R2P MUST NOT CONTRAVENE STATE SOVEREIGNTY
- UN NEWS CENTRE: ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT WARNS ON DOCTRINE TO INTERVENE ON WAR CRIMES
- THE ECONOMIST: RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT: AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME—AND GONE?
- HUFFINGTON POST: LLOYD AXWORTHY AND ALAN ROCK OP-ED--PROTECTING R2P
- AFP: UN DEBATES RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT THREATENED POPULATIONS
- NEW YORK TIMES: WHEN TO STEP IN TO STOP WAR CRIMES CAUSES FISSURES
- EL TIEMPO: JUAN MENDEZ OP-ED--RESPONSABILIDAD DE PROTEGER (SPANISH)
- EMBASSY MAGAZINE: ERNIE REGEHR OP-ED: REVISITING, AND REVIVING, THE R2P
- ALLAFRICA: MOHAMED SAHNOUN OP-ED-- UPHOLD CONTINENT’S CONTRIBUTION TO HUMAN RIGHTS
- ASSOCIATED PRESS: UN DEBATE ON GENOCIDE ASKS: PROTECT OR INTERVENE?
- A TRIBUNA: GILBERTO RODRIGUEZ AND ANDRES SERBIN--RESPONSABILIDADE DE PROTEGER (PORTUGESE)
- FOREIGN POLICY IN FOCUS: BAN KI MOON AND R2P
- AMERICAN MAGAZINE: THE STATE’S DUTY TO PROTECT: ENFORCEMENT IN QUESTION
II. US House of Representatives debate on challenges facing UN Peacekeeping operations
- CHAIRMAN BERMAN’S OPENING REMARKS AT HEARING, “NEW CHALLENGES FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS”
- WRITTEN TESTIMONY SUBMITTED BY AMBASSADOR SUSAN RICE TO THE HOUSE FOREIGN AFFARIS COMMITTEE ON “CONFRONTING NEW CHALLENGES FACING UNITED NATIONS PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS”
- BRIEFING ON “THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT: IMPLICATIONS FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS”
- VOICE OF AMERICA: UN AMBASSADOR SAYS US COMMITTED TO PEACEKEEPING
1. U.S. Backs Implementing U.N. Doctrine Against Genocide
The Wall Street Journal
30 July 2009
The Obama administration is supporting moves to implement a U.N. doctrine calling for collective military action to halt genocide.
The next step is to see if the countries in favor of implementing the policy will act when a new genocide is brewing if all other diplomatic actions fail. The doctrine is political, not legal: Although these countries have expressed the political will to act, they aren't legally bound to.
(…)Proponents of the policy dismiss this view, saying the world has entered a new era after recent genocides in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. They say the doctrine rejects unilateral intervention in favor of Security Council-authorized, multilateral action as a last resort.
During the debate, Rosemary DiCarlo, U.S. alternate representative for special political affairs, told the General Assembly, "The type of horrors that marred the 20th century need not be part of the landscape of world politics. The United States is determined to work with the international community to prevent and respond to such atrocities."
(…)The doctrine was endorsed in principle at a 2005 summit by more than 150 heads of government, including President George W. Bush. China endorsed the 2005 communiqué and voted for a Security Council resolution in support of it. Russia supports it in principle but came under criticism when it tried to justify its interventions in Chechnya and in Georgia last year with the doctrine.
The doctrine is opposed by General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, a priest and a left-leaning former foreign minister of Nicaragua. Rev. d'Escoto and his allies dismiss the notion of a new era of altruistic military intervention.
Gareth Evans, former Australian foreign minister and the architect of many the doctrine's details, said colonial motives wouldn't taint a humanitarian military mission because the world had changed after the "shame" of not responding to mass killings in Rwanda and former Yugoslavia.
2. La “responsabilidad de proteger” en la conciencia de la ONU
Op-ed by Javier Rupérez
27 July 2009
Las matanzas que en Rwanda acabaron en 1994 con la vida de un millón de personas de la etnia “tutsi” podían haberse evitado si los miembros del Consejo de Seguridad de las Naciones Unidas y la misma organización internacional, que tenían cumplida información de lo estaba siendo planificado por los dirigentes de la mayoría “hutu”, hubieran intervenido a tiempo. Existía fuerza militar suficiente para hacerlo. La barbarie desencadenada por los “khmer rojos” en Camboya entre 1975 y 1979, y que supuso el asesinato de centenares de miles de ciudadanos,-entre millón y medio y dos millones-, hubiera merecido una intervención contundente por parte de la comunidad internacional. Ahora mismo, cuando las noticias que nos llegan de Darfur son escasas, podemos presumir que cuando el recuento de la tragedia se realice serán también centenares de miles las victimas que han perdido la vida y sonoros los lamentos de los que no pudieron o no quisieran intervenir a tiempo. Las advertencias no han faltado: hace un año el Tribunal Penal Internacional acusó al Presidente de Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, de genocidio, crímenes contra la humanidad y asesinato.
En el trasfondo de todas esas y otras parecidas tragedias -¿cuántos son los muertos en Corea del Norte como consecuencia de la represión y el hambre?- están las amargas memorias del holocausto judío planificado y perpretado por la Alemania hitleriana durante la II Guerra Mundial y contemplado con silente pasividad por los integrantes de la coalición vencedora. Al menos la OTAN en 1999, en una decisión sin precedentes y al día de hoy sin consecuentes, intervino militarmente contra el régimen de Slodoban Milosevic en Serbia para impedir la campaña de exterminio lanzada por Belgrado contra los albano-kosovares. La decisión no tenía mas respaldo internacional que el otorgado por los propios integrantes de la alianza militar y fue justificada con el argumento de una “intervención humanitaria” realizada para detener la catástrofe.
Ese es el contexto en el que ha surgido el concepto de la “responsabilidad de proteger” que correspondería a la comunidad internacional para actuar en el caso de que existiera constancia de que un país, un gobierno o una sociedad estuvieran en trance o en curso de cometer masivas violaciones de los derechos humanos en su propio territorio. En los tiempos todavia optimistas de finales de los noventa, cuando el papel de la ONU parecía cobrar nueva fuerza tras el final de la guerra fría, el entonces Secretario General de la Organización, Koffi Annan, impulsó la ambiciosa consideración de los retos a los que debería hacer frente la comunidad internacional en el siglo XXI. Entre ellos, la necesidad de evitar nuevas Rwandas o Srebenicas. El documento final de la cumbre de la ONU en 2005 endosaba el concepto de la “responsabilidad de proteger” en dos párrafos novedosos, ambos dirigidos a proteger a la población civil contra el genocidio, los crímenes de guerra, la limpieza étnica y los crímenes contra la humanidad. Aunque la responsabilidad primaria corresponde a los estados, la comunidad internacional se declara preparada para actuar colectivamente, bajo la autoridad del Consejo de Seguridad, aplicando toda la panoplia de recursos establecidos en la Carta de las Naciones Unidas, incluido el uso de la fuerza, en el caso de que las correspondientes autoridades nacionales se demuestren incapaces de evitar la comisión de tales crímenes.
La “responsabilidad de proteger” es un concepto tan generoso y necesario como revolucionario en el contexto del derecho internacional. Si adquiere virtualidad jurídica, y es deseable que así sea, la sacralidad del principio de la soberanía estatal, que sigue rigiendo en la vida internacional de relación, sufriría un recorte tan excepcional como significativo. Y en el debate que en esos momentos está teniendo lugar en la Asamblea General sobre la mejor manera de dar forma a las decisiones de la cumbre y del Consejo de Seguridad unos y otros se retratan con claridad: los autoritarios/totalitarios/fascistas/comunistas que en el mundo son se acuerdan por una vez de la soberanía estatal que ellos tan a menudo violan para rechazar un principio que, dicen, podría servir para amparar una nueva “agresión imperialista”, mientras que las democracias mas o menos asentadas prestan gustosamente su asentimiento a esta todavia tímida garantía contra el horror y a favor de la civilización. ¿La prueba del nueve? Léase la intervención del representante de Rwanda: faltó la responsabilidad de proteger. ¿Cuántos millones más de muertos hacen falta? ¿O es que el multilateralismo no se aplica cuando de lo que se trata es de ahogar en sangre a la disidencia?
3. UN bodies should reflect contemporary realities: India
The Times of India
25 July 2009
India, which is seeking a permanent membership in an expanded UN Security Council, has highlighted the need for "real reform" of the world body's top organ and other decision-making agencies to reflect contemporary realities and make them capable of acting against "mass atrocities".
(…)"Even a cursory examination of reasons for non-action by the UN, especially the Security Council, reveals that in respect of these tragic events that were witnessed by the entire world, non-action was not due to lack of warning, resources or the barrier of state sovereignty but because of strategic, political or economic considerations of those on whom the present international architecture had placed the onus to act," Puri said.
The key aspect is to address the issue of "willingness to act," he said. "Here, of course a necessary ingredient is real reform of decision-making bodies in the UN, especially the Security Council in its permanent membership, to reflect contemporary realities and make them forces for peace and capable of acting against mass atrocities."
Referring to the discussion that has been going on in the UN General Assembly, Puri said: "We don't live in an ideal world and, therefore, need to be cognisant that creation of new norms should at the same time completely safeguard against their misuse."
In this context, he said responsibility to protect should in no way provide a pretext for humanitarian intervention or unilateral action.
"... Perhaps finalisation and adoption of the definition of aggression under the Rome Statute would assuage to some extent the concerns regarding the misuse of this idea," he said.
Despite, all the safeguards and obligations, Puri regretted the international community has in the past failed in its duty to respond to mass atrocities even when they were a clear threat to global peace and security.
4. Should the UN React to Every Country in Crisis?
Voice of America
24 July 2009
The United Nations General Assembly in meetings Thursday debated the implementation of the Responsibility to Protect or "R-to-P resolution." In concept, it is a strategy based on state responsibility, international assistance and timely and decisive responses to countries in trouble around the world. But there is less than unanimous agreement that it will ever work.
The stage for Thursday's debate was set early when Edward Luck, special advisor to the Secretary-General, told the U.N. General Assembly what not to do.
"What we do not need at this point, however, are efforts to turn back the clock to divide the membership, or to divert attention from our central task. The world is changing. Our thinking needs to evolve with it," he said.
After an informal morning session, there was further discussion of the R-to-P issue by a panel of distinguished scholars and political activists. American Professor of linguistics and philosophy and political author, Noam Chomsky, did not believe the big or rich will rescue the poor and little.
"Take the case that I mentioned about the World Food Program cutting back its funding It wasn't even reported in the mainstream in the United States. Who cares? It is a criticism of the Western countries," he noted. "They're the ones cutting down their funding because it's more important by their priorities to bail-out banks than to feed people," he said.
Garth Evans, co-chair of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, stated he is not in favor of an all-encompassing rescue plan for the ills of the world.
"It's very important that we must refine and define and narrow the scope of this enterprise so that it doesn't become an all-purpose excuse for dealing with human rights generally and comfort generally," he said.
The debate continues, the speeches go on. Will people help people? What are the boundaries of U.N. responsibility? The concluding evidence and the final decision is still to come.
5. Saviors or conquerors? UN mulls ‘responsibility to protect’
Posted by Louis Charbonneau,
Written by Patrick Worsnip (Reuters)
24 July 2009
What’s more important — the right of a sovereign state to manage its affairs free of outside interference or the duty of the international community to intervene when massive human rights violations are being committed in a country?
The United Nations — nothing if not a talking shop — has been debating that question this week in the General Assembly. It goes to the heart of what the U.N. is all about.
(…)Cautious as it was, the summit document was seen by many advocacy groups as a step on the road to fulfilling their dream that if a government was committing atrocities against its people, the United Nations would march in and stop it.
In the real world, U.N. officials say, that is not going to happen, at least under the peacekeeping rules that have applied in recent decades. These do not authorize U.N. forces to go to war against the national army of a sovereign state — a move that would amount to invasion. Witness the six-year-old conflict in Sudan’s western region of Darfur — branded by some as genocide — where a U.N./African Union peacekeeping force is only now being slowly deployed with the consent of the Khartoum government. The only time that R2P has been invoked in practice — and even then retrospectively — was in former U.N. secretary-General Kofi Annan’s mission to mediate in post-election violence in Kenya last year, U.N. officials say.
This week’s debate was to take stock of R2P and discuss how to take it forward, although no immediate action is expected. It came against the background of a determined attempt by radicals led by General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto, a former Nicaraguan Sandinista government minister, to kick the issue into the long grass.
For D’Escoto and those who agree with him, R2P is code for an attempt by big Western powers to impose their will on the weak. In a contentious “concept note” issued to all U.N. members he declared that “colonialism and interventionism used ‘responsibility to protect’ arguments.” One member of a panel of experts D’Escoto convened to launch the debate, U.S. academic Noam Chomsky, said R2P-type arguments had been used to justify Japan’s 1931 invasion of Manchuria and Nazi Germany’s pre-World War Two move into Czechoslovakia.
While some radical states, such as Venezuela, echoed D’Escoto’s line in the assembly debate, human rights groups expressed relief that most cautiously supported a strictly defined interpretation of R2P and backed proposals by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for developing it. Ban has proposed periodic reviews of how countries have implemented R2P and regular reports by himself on the issue. “To those that argued this week that the U.N. was not ready to make a reality of the commitment to end mass atrocities, the majority of the General Assembly gave its answer: you are wrong,” said Monica Serrano of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. Despite that, there have been clear signs of concern among developing countries that unless tightly controlled, R2P could be used in support of future Iraq-style invasions of countries that have angered the big powers.
6. La responsabilidad de proteger
By Monica Serrano
24 July 2009
Esta semana, la Asamblea General de la ONU aborda por primera vez en cinco años la promesa solemne contraída por más de 170 jefes de Estado y de Gobierno en la Cumbre Mundial de 2005. Dicho compromiso cristalizó en el principio de la Responsabilidad de proteger (RdP) que busca asegurar la respuesta efectiva de la comunidad internacional ante el riesgo inminente de genocidio y otros crímenes atroces masivos. Es la promesa de asegurar que los horrores de Ruanda, Srebrenica, Camboya o Argentina no se repitan.
El balance trágico del siglo pasado, en el que más de 217 millones de seres humanos perdieron la vida en guerras, matanzas y actos genocidas, con una proporción de 9 a 1 de bajas civiles, da cuenta de la magnitud del desafío al que se enfrenta la ONU. La evidencia de estas cifras brutales empujó al secretario general Ban Ki-moon a retomar la agenda de su antecesor y a publicar su informe Hacer efectiva la responsabilidad de proteger que sirve de base para las discusiones de esta semana.
La responsabilidad de proteger, o RdP como se la conoce, representa uno de los avances normativos más importantes en el campo de los derechos humanos. No obstante, un pequeño grupo de países, conocido por su empecinada defensa de la soberanía, amenaza con desafiar el consenso.
La RdP estipula que los Estados están obligados, individual y colectivamente, a proteger a sus poblaciones del genocidio, crímenes de guerra, crímenes de lesa humanidad y limpieza étnica. Se trata de un principio que no se contradice con la soberanía ni con la igualdad entre los Estados. Por el contrario, está en total conformidad con el respeto a la soberanía responsable que ha definido las relaciones entre los Estados en varias latitudes del mundo. La RdP es expresión práctica de la conciencia acrecentada entre numerosos países sobre los estándares universales que subyacen a los derechos humanos respaldados por el derecho internacional.
En la soberanía responsable no cabe ambigüedad alguna sobre la obligación del Estado de proteger a su población de abusos graves y de la necesidad de actuar cuando de la violencia contra la propia población se trata. Cuando un Estado incumple manifiestamente sus obligaciones, la comunidad internacional debe tomar las riendas para impedir o detener las atrocidades.
Hay quienes dicen que la RdP es la misma historia que la intervención humanitaria pero con otros atuendos. Habría que responderles que, a diferencia de la intervención humanitaria, la RdP no reivindica la intervención unilateral preventiva. Por el contrario, la RdP aboga por la acción multilateral y colectiva, a la vez que ofrece a la comunidad internacional una amplia gama de medidas para responder, de manera oportuna y decisiva, ante una catástrofe inminente: desde una diplomacia enérgica y el despliegue de observadores, hasta la imposición de sanciones y el uso de la fuerza como último recurso.
Pese a la variedad de opciones, no han faltado voces que alegan que la RdP es la vía rápida para la intervención militar. Debe quedar claro que la RdP no sólo no insiste en la acción militar, sino que enfatiza la prevención de las atrocidades y el fortalecimiento de la capacidad de los Estados para proteger a sus ciudadanos. La RdP busca, pues, ser un aliado y no un adversario de la soberanía responsable.
Aunque la RdP fue adoptada por unanimidad, hay quienes concluyen que se trata de una agenda impuesta por los países del Norte. No es así: la demanda de protección se origina donde ocurren las tragedias, sea en el Norte o en el Sur. Lo confirma la encuesta más exhaustiva de víctimas en zonas de guerra: más de dos terceras partes de los civiles entrevistados por el Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja se manifestaron a favor de la intervención y sólo un 10% expresó su oposición.
Quienes se oponen a la RdP deberían preguntarse si cientos de miles de víctimas en el pasado podrían haber recibido alguna protección y un lugar en la conciencia del mundo si esta norma hubiera estado plenamente establecida en aquella época. No deja de ser irónico, además, que quienes pretenden aferrarse a criterios absolutos de soberanía podrían convertirse en blanco de políticas represivas desplegadas bajo los mismos argumentos.
La RdP pretende proporcionar la capacidad institucional para responder a tiempo. Se trata de un principio que busca reconciliar la soberanía y la protección de los derechos humanos en el umbral marcado por crímenes atroces masivos. La RdP es un principio manejable que no da pie a obligaciones desmedidas; no pretende resolver las guerras o los conflictos, sino prevenir y, en caso necesario, ofrecer una respuesta creíble. El alcance y los límites de la RdP están aún por definirse; no se trata de una tarea concluida, sino de una asignatura pendiente. Pero es claro que en un número importante de países esta norma incipiente ha encontrado clara aceptación.
Si la RdP es la expresión del deseo de respetar y proteger la dignidad humana, no debe extrañarnos la amplia simpatía que ha despertado alrededor del mundo. El reto es hacer del debate de estos días en la Asamblea General un espacio de diálogo que permita hacer de esta noble promesa una realidad.
7. Chinese diplomat: implementing "responsibility to protect" must not contravene state sovereignty
24 July 2009
The implementation of the concept of "responsibility to protect" should not contravene the principle of state sovereignty and the principle of noninterference of internal affairs, a senior Chinese diplomat said Friday.
(…)The 2005 world summit outcome document gave a very prudent description to the concept of "responsibility to protect," he said.
The document strictly limited the scope of its application to four serious international crimes, namely genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, Liu noted. "However, experience in the past few years shows that there is still controversy over the meaning and implementation of the concept."
Liu stressed that the government of a given state has the primary responsibility to protect its own citizens.
"The international community can provide assistance but the protection of its citizens ultimately depends on the government of the state," he said. "This is in keeping with the principle of state sovereignty."
"Although the world has undergone profound and complex changes, the basic status of the purposes and principles of the UN Charter remains unchanged," he stressed.
"There must not be any wavering of the principles of respecting state sovereignty and non-interference of internal affairs," he added.
8. Assembly President warns on doctrine to intervene on war crimes, atrocities
UN News Centre
23 July 2009
The principle of ‘responsibility to protect,’ the international understanding to intervene to stop atrocities from taking place, could pose a threat to national sovereignty, General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto warned today.
(…)In a statement to the Assembly’s thematic dialogue on the issue, Mr. D’Escoto said that the legacy of colonialism gave “developing countries strong reasons to fear that laudable motives can end up being misused, once more, to justify arbitrary and selective interventions against the weakest States.”
Mr. D’Escoto used the case of Iraq as an example of the lack of accountability for “those who might abuse the right that R2P would give nation-States to resort to the use of force against other states.”
He also questioned whether the adoption of R2P in the practice of collective security would undermine respect for international law, saying that the principle is “applied selectively, in cases where public opinion in P5 States [the five permanent members of the Security Council: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States] supports intervention, as in Darfur, and not where it is opposed, as in Gaza.”
In contrast, Edward Luck, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on R2P, noted that all the heads of State and government at the 2005 World Summit, without reservation, committed to the doctrine, and subsequent unanimous adoptions of General Assembly and Security Council resolutions reaffirmed the principle.
“With the Secretary-General’s presentation of his report to the Assembly two days ago, the process of implementation has begun,” said Mr. Luck, stressing that what “we do not need at this point are efforts to turn back the clock, to divide the membership, or to divert attention from our central task.”
He said that R2P seeks to “discourage unilateralism, military adventurism and an over-dependence on military responses to humanitarian need.” He also wanted to dispel the “myth” of the “twisted notion that sovereignty and responsibility are somehow incompatible.”
The General Assembly President said, however, that currently “a few States, sometimes only one State, apply rules or benefit from treaties that carry the sanctions of law, but to which they are not subject.
“The Security Council should not have recourse to the International Criminal Court, for example, until all UN Member States are party, or at least until all Security Council members, are party to its convention,” he said
“What is more, the operation of the veto assures that the doctrine cannot be applied to the permanent members of the Security Council. No system of justice can be legitimate that, by design, allows principles of justice to be applied differentially.”
Delivering a set of proposals contained in his latest report on the issue, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered a set of proposals for implementing the principle in his latest report on the issue, telling the Assembly on Tuesday that the common task of the UN “now is to deliver on this historic pledge to the peoples of the world.”
(…)Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said yesterday that the R2P principle must now be translated into concrete steps. “We should all undertake an honest assessment of our ability to save lives in extraordinary situations,” she said in a statement.
“A concerted effort by States, UN partners and regional organizations will be required to develop and maintain a credible capacity for rapid responses to exceptional situations similar to those of Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia,” said Ms. Pillay. (…)
9. Responsibility to protect: An idea whose time has come—and gone?
23 July 2009
An idealistic effort to establish a new humanitarian principle is coming under attack at the United Nations
GARETH EVANS, a former Australian foreign minister and roving global troubleshooter, makes a bold but passionate claim on behalf of a three-word expression which (in quite large part thanks to his efforts) now belongs to the language of diplomacy: the “responsibility to protect”. In a recent book, he says there are “not many ideas that have the potential to matter more for good, not only in theory but in practice.”
(…) Whatever their motive, people of that cast of mind took heart from the moment in 2005 when the biggest-ever gathering of world leaders accepted the principle that they have a general “responsibility to protect” human beings from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity. In a delicate formula which Mr Evans worked hard to craft, it was agreed that this concept, now known as R2P, referred mainly to the responsibility of states for their own people. Only in certain extreme circumstances, when states could not or would not protect their own citizens, or were actively harming them, might others step in. The concept was carefully modified so as to avoid giving prickly sovereign states the idea that they were about to be invaded at will by moralising outsiders.
(…)The apparent campaign to sabotage R2P is taking place in defiance of Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, who earlier this year drew up a report that presents the concept in the most cautious and reassuring of tones. As he argued, there were several benign and uncontroversial ways in which R2P could be made more real. For example, by helping decent states protect their people; or by having an effective early-warning system to trigger constructive action when things start to go wrong (or in plainer terms, when states start to collapse). He says action, military or otherwise, by external powers is a last resort.
Such assurances have failed to convince critics of R2P, who are adamant that the whole idea is just a cover to legitimise armed interference by rich Western powers in the affairs of poor countries. One person who takes that view is Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, a Nicaraguan diplomat (and Sandinista priest-politician), who is now president of the General Assembly.
In a calculated snub to the idealists who tried to make the R2P idea nuanced and hence palatable, he says a more accurate name for the concept would be the “right to intervene” or R2I. Quite a number of countries might be persuaded to support a resolution diluting the commitment to R2P that was made by over 150 states at the UN summit in 2005. Possible backers include large and middle-sized powers of various ideological stripes—including India, Pakistan, Cuba, Sudan, Venezuela and Egypt. Some of these may try to induce smaller states in their neighbourhood to follow their sceptical line.
Supporters of R2P are complaining of a “surprise attack”. They say Mr d’Escoto brought the debate forward by several weeks—to a snoozy period in late July. Conveniently enough, Mr Ban will not be around. On July 21st, before he left New York, Mr Ban made a short plea in R2P’s defence, urging states to “resist those who try to change the subject or turn our common effort to curb the worst atrocities in human history into a struggle over ideology, geography or economics.”
Meanwhile Mr d’Escoto scheduled an eve-of-debate discussion by a four-member panel in which Mr Evans was the only supporter of R2P—pitted against three sceptics, including Noam Chomsky, a linguist and veteran critic of American foreign policy. Ed Luck, who is Mr Ban’s adviser on R2P, was allowed to make a statement, but only the panel members could take questions from member states.(…)
One of the first international bodies to endorse the concept, or a version of it, was the African Union, which emerged from the discredited Organisation of African Unity. The AU’s Constitutive Act included a provision for “the right of the Union to intervene in a member state pursuant to a decision of the assembly in respect of grave circumstances, namely: war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.” It cited a new principle of “non-indifference” to large-scale crimes.
One of R2P’s keenest sponsors was Kofi Annan, the Ghanaian who preceded Mr Ban as secretary-general. Mr Annan has agonised in public about the UN’s failure in Rwanda, when he was head of un peacekeeping, and has argued that his success as a peace-broker in Kenya last year owed something to the existence of R2P as a moral instrument.
Meanwhile, America, far from dreaming up R2P as a crafty way of justifying imperialist adventures, was initially rather sceptical. Under the Bush administration, both the Pentagon and the State Department were intensely wary of signing up to anything that might bind them to take draconian action in the name of humanity.
Indeed, R2P was a part of a much broader 2005 reform of the United Nations that George Bush first sought to weaken, then only reluctantly accepted. And to this day, there are voices on America’s political right that remain profoundly sceptical about the idea of costly pledges to wage wars in the name of protecting people from inhumanity.
Barack Obama’s administration, with its internationalist instincts, is clearly a lot more comfortable with notions like R2P. The President, during the Group of Eight summit in Italy in July, made some supportive noises; and his UN ambassador, Susan Rice, made a more impassioned speech in defence of R2P last month, soon after visiting Rwanda.
But if R2P is no Western plot, it may not be the perfect way to ward off dreadful acts of mass murder either. Perhaps its greatest drawback is also one of its touted merits: that it is so carefully crafted to conform with the current UN charter, which makes the Security Council the most important arbiter of war and peace.
All attempts to reform the membership of the council, which gives America, Russia, China, France and Britain the privilege of permanent seats and vetoes, have failed. So critics of R2P may well use the argument that five victors of the second world war should not have the crucial say as to when coercion may be used.
An angry, inconclusive General Assembly debate will not doom R2P. But it risks reinforcing the rift between an assembly that is perceived as representing poor, small and weak countries, and a council on which powerful, or once-powerful, countries have a disproportionate say.
And that would be seen in many quarters as sad and ironic, because, in the words of one R2P supporter, it is the “South that needs R2P the most.”
10. Protecting R2P
Op-ed by Lloyd Axworthy and Allan Rock
The Huffington Post
23 July 2009
This week, a principle adopted by world leaders four years ago to prevent mass atrocity will face a crucial test. The Responsibility to Protect, or R2P, stipulates that states, individually and collectively, have an obligation to protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes or crimes against humanity. It expressly provides that the international community, acting through the Security Council, can have a direct role in providing protection to vulnerable populations.
R2P grew out of a tragic history of international indifference to violence within states whose most recent chapters began with the Holocaust. In the 1990s, the bloody chronology continued in Somalia, Rwanda, Srebrenica, and Kosovo, underscoring humanity's spectacular failure to respond to conscience-shocking crimes. Efforts to improvise a response were ad hoc and untidy, and in the case of Rwanda there was no response at all. The decade ended with Kofi Annan's eloquent plea to the General Assembly to find a way forward -- to reconcile state sovereignty and the moral duties born of our common humanity.
(…)Since the adoption of R2P, places like Darfur, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Sri Lanka have reminded us that there is a long way to go to bring the R2P doctrine from "words to deeds", as Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has said. Recognizing nonetheless that this extraordinary achievement is one that the world should safeguard, the Secretary General has produced a report on implementing R2P that sets out a strategy to transform R2P from idea to action. His report will be the subject this week of a debate in the General Assembly.
This is a significant time for the R2P doctrine. But there is skulduggery afoot. Opponents of R2P are at work to hijack a process intended to move the 2005 World Summit agreement forward. The President of the UN General Assembly, Father Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, a professed R2P sceptic, appears to be throwing neutrality to the wind by organizing the events in such a way that a vocal minority will dominate the debate. The President is aided in this process by his special advisor, Nirupam Sen, former UN ambassador from India and one of the most hard-line R2P holdouts during the 2005 negotiations.
The opponents of R2P encourage misconceptions and rely on arguments that can, we contend, be addressed to the satisfaction of the fair-minded.
They argue that R2P is a product of western imperialism, a northern norm that has no support in the global south. They ignore the fact that the African Union led the way in 2000 by including a statement in their own Constitutive Act to the effect that AU member states would address the failure of an AU member to protect its population from mass atrocities. Final consensus at the World Summit was reached due in no small measure to strong support from these and other voices from the global south.
At this crucial time, R2P needs the voices of its champions. Canada and the supporters across Africa, Latin American, Asia and Europe that understand the importance of R2P should prevent the naysayers from rolling back 2005's historic achievement. In recent weeks both President Obama and his UN Ambassador Susan Rice have issued strong and unequivocal statements declaring that the United States is in full support of moving the R2P agenda forward. These good intentions must now be translated into an active diplomatic effort.
Rather than allowing the work of a few governments to defeat a global consensus, this week's debate at the General Assembly should be used to signal readiness to fill what Secretary-General Ban has called the "gaps in capacity, will and imagination" to make reality of the responsibility to protect. This should include strengthened early warning systems, the inclusion of gender into the R2P framework, greater guidance and support for peacekeepers asked to protect people, increased support for mediation, and the establishment of a standing UN emergency force.
A useful way to begin would be to focus on the ongoing tragedy of Darfur as a prime, real-time example of how unchecked state abuses continue to devastate a civilian population. Such a discussion would convert the General Assembly debate from a sterile and anachronistic rehashing of old sins into a contemporary examination of how to advance the basic human right of people not to be subject to mass murder and atrocity by powerful political players.
There is too much at stake to allow R2P to be weakened or withdrawn. It is needed now more than ever. The General Assembly should work this week to strengthen and not undermine it, and political leaders everywhere should ensure that their UN ambassadors are doing just that.
11. UN debates responsibility to protect threatened populations
23 July 2009
The UN General Assembly on Thursday debated the contentious responsibility to protect populations threatened with genocide or war crimes, which some developing nations see as a Western ploy to meddle in their domestic affairs.
(…)Ahead of the debate, the president of the assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua, convened a panel discussion Thursday with speakers including leading leftist US academic Noam Chomsky, a strong critic of "humanitarian imperialism."
D'Escoto, a former priest who served as foreign minister under the leftist Sandinista regime from 1979 to 1990, immediately echoed the suspicions of some developing countries about humanitarian intervention.
"Recent and painful memories related to the legacy of colonialism, give developing countries strong reasons to fear that laudable motives can end-up being misused, once more, to justify arbitrary and selective interventions against the weakest states," he noted.
"We must take into account the prevailing lack of trust from most of the developing countries when it comes to the use of force for humanitarian reasons."
In remarks to the Assembly Tuesday, Ban said his report was based on three pillars: state responsibility; international assistance and capacity-building and timely and decisive response.
"It seeks to situate the responsibility to protect squarely under the UN roof and within our Charter, where it belongs," he added, stressing the need for the world body to sharpen its capacities for early warning and assessment.
"When prevention fails, the United Nations needs to pursue an early and flexible response tailored to the circumstances of each case. Military action is a measure of last, not first, resort and should only be undertaken in accordance with the provisions of the Charter," Ban said.
But in an apparent dig at d'Escoto, he pointedly urged UN member states to "resist those who try to change the subject or turn our common effort to curb the worst atrocities in human history into a struggle over ideology, geography or economics."
In his remarks to the assembly, Chomsky cited numerous historical and modern-day examples -- from early American colonialists to Nazi strategy -- where principles similar to those that underpin R2P were applied to justify political or imperialistic agendas.
"Virtually every use of force in international affairs has been justified in humanitarian terms, even the worst monsters," Chomsky said."
"The responsibility to protect does not alter the legal obligation of member states to refrain from the use of force except in conformity with the Charter. Rather it reinforces this obligation," Edward Luck, a special adviser to Ban on R2P, quoted the UN secretary general as saying.
Gareth Evans, a former Australian foreign minister and president emeritus of the independent International Crisis Group, noted that the issue "is not the right of big states to do anything, including throwing their weight around militarily, but the responsibility of all states to protect their own people from atrocity crimes, and to assist others to do so by all appropriate means."
"The question of reaction, through diplomatic pressure, through sanctions, through international criminal prosecutions and ultimately through military action, arises only if prevention has failed."
12. When to Step In to Stop War Crimes Causes Fissures
New York Times
Memo From the United Nations
By Neil MacMarquhar
July 22, 2009
On the face of it, a commitment by all United Nations member states to reach an understanding on how the world body should intervene to stop genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing would not seem like a major stretch.
But the debate scheduled in the General Assembly for Thursday over the concept, known as “the responsibility to protect,” is producing rancor before it even begins. So much, in fact, that instead of figuring out how to enforce the doctrine, the General Assembly could end up debating the policy’s validity all over again, even though about 150 world leaders already endorsed it in 2005.
Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general, tried to set the tone with a speech on Tuesday. Citing his visits to the memorials for 800,000 dead in Rwanda, Mr. Ban said the United Nations had the unique ability to save lives by intervening to stop mass civilian deaths.
“It is high time to turn the promise of the responsibility to protect into practice,” Mr. Ban said, warning against those seeking to reopen the entire debate. “Resist those who try to change the subject or turn our common effort to curb the worst atrocities in human history into a struggle over ideology, geography or economics,” Mr. Ban added. “What do they offer to the victims of mass violence? Rancor instead of substance, rhetoric instead of policy, despair instead of hope.”
Mr. Ban may not have singled anyone out, but it seemed a not-so-subtle reference to the Rev. Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, the Nicaraguan president of the General Assembly and a Catholic priest, who issued a position paper last week that created an uproar.
His “Concept Note” suggested that responsibility to protect was redecorated colonialism, and that the true means to eliminate genocide and similar scourges included world financial reform, Security Council reform and drawing a lesson from Jesus.
“Jesus’ emphasis on redistribution of wealth to the poor and on nonviolence reinforces the right perspective on responsibility to protect,” his note said.
Father D’Escoto scheduled a panel discussion before the General Assembly debate featuring speakers like Noam Chomsky, the American academic whose critique of “humanitarian imperialism” discussed the doctrine. (…)
While Father D’Escoto has supporters, many delegations reacted with the usual combination of outrage and derision that Father D’Escoto, a former Sandinista foreign minister, has a habit of provoking. The ambassador of one Latin American state said it was shocking that a priest was putting ideological and political visions ahead of human suffering. Peter Maurer, the Swiss ambassador, put it more bluntly, saying, “A priest should know that certain things are better kept to your heart.”(…)
Even without the General Assembly president, the topic — shortened in United Nations-speak to “R2P” — was a hard-fought one. Many developing countries harbor suspicions that the doctrine is merely a Trojan horse for foreign meddling in their domestic affairs. Attempts to slap the label on various crises only deepened those suspicions (…)
Edward C. Luck, whom Mr. Ban appointed his special adviser on the topic but the General Assembly refused to pay, wrote a report this year that divided the concept into three pillars: that all states must protect their populations from atrocities; that the United Nations and other institutions can help countries failing in this duty; and that the international community must react in a series of steps when a large number of civilians are at risk, with military intervention the final response. The fight swirls around that last point, when military intervention might be justified and whether that can be codified into law. “The problem with all of this is the one-dimensional perception that R2P is only about military coercion,” said Gareth Evans, a former Australian foreign minister.
Delegates from African organizations have come to argue that R2P is not just a Western tool. Other proponents hope the debate will inch the discussion toward practical steps on how R2P can be made operational. But some worry that the more it is debated, the less consensus will emerge.
The Bush administration disliked the doctrine on the ground that it might tie American hands in foreign policy decisions, but President Obama basically supports it.
Susan Rice, the American ambassador to the United Nations, often speaks about how the failure to intercede in Rwanda while she was a top Clinton administration official in Africa is a low point in American foreign policy and her personal career. In a speech last month in Vienna, Ms. Rice acknowledged that the doctrine had been abused in conflicts like Iraq, but argued for the responsibility “to respond to the worst outrages.”(…)
13. Responsabilidad de proteger
By Juan E. Méndez*
22 July 2009
El compromiso adquirido por dirigentes latinoamericanos en la Cumbre Mundial de 2005, de proteger a las poblaciones de crímenes masivos, será puesto a prueba. Esta semana, la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas comenzó a debatir las propuestas para la aplicación de esta promesa solemne: la de la responsabilidad de proteger.
Este principio estipula que los Estados deben proteger a sus poblaciones de genocidio, crímenes de guerra, crímenes de lesa humanidad y limpieza étnica, y deben ayudar a otros Estados a actuar en consecuencia. Cuando un Estado incumple manifiestamente sus obligaciones, la comunidad internacional debe tomar medidas oportunas y decisivas para impedir o detener las atrocidades. Este debería ser un momento de esperanza, puesto que los gobiernos se comprometen a poner en obra sus palabras, pero unos cuantos gobiernos interesados en atenuar este compromiso podrían apoderarse del debate invocando la soberanía a modo de barricada tras la cual sus acciones no puedan ser cuestionadas. Los Estados latinoamericanos, algunos de ellos defensores claves del principio, deben hacerse oír y demostrar que están dispuestos a apoyar el llamado a la acción del Secretario General de la ONU.
Se trata de un principio que no se contradice con la soberanía ni con la igualdad de los Estados, ni con el principio de no intervención. Por el contrario, está en total conformidad con el respeto por la soberanía responsable que ha llegado a definir las relaciones entre estos. La responsabilidad de proteger es expresión práctica de la conciencia acrecentada en nuestra región sobre los estándares universales de derechos humanos respaldados por el derecho internacional. Mi propia experiencia da cuenta de una época cruenta, cuando los regímenes dictatoriales abusaban de la soberanía para cometer crímenes terribles contra su propia población. En 1975 fui capturado por el régimen militar argentino, torturado y detenido sin proceso por un año y medio.
En aquel momento, el uso sistemático de la tortura, las ejecuciones y masacres, la detención arbitraria y prolongada, la desaparición forzada y la violación eran moneda corriente en nuestro continente. Hoy, esos actos son considerados con razón crímenes de lesa humanidad. No puedo evitar preguntarme si miles de víctimas latinoamericanas podrían haber recibido alguna protección si la norma de la responsabilidad de proteger hubiera estado plenamente establecida en aquella época.
En el 2004, el secretario general, Kofi Annan, me nombró su primer asesor especial para la prevención del genocidio. Al año siguiente fui a Costa de Marfil, donde por aquel entonces se vivía una aterradora oleada de matanzas étnicas incitadas por un discurso de odio desenfrenado. Recordé puntualmente a figuras de ambos bandos que aquellos que incitaran a cometer atrocidades podrían verse procesados por la Corte Penal Internacional. Estas amenazas, así como la intervención diplomática oportuna, lograron atemperar los ánimos y reducir la violencia, una prueba de que la justicia puede tener efectos preventivos y de que la prevención de atrocidades no implica el uso de la fuerza.
Dirigentes latinoamericanos de Argentina, Chile, Perú, Costa Rica y México desempeñaron un papel decisivo en la Cumbre Mundial de 2005 para llegar a un acuerdo sobre la responsabilidad de proteger. Los Estados latinoamericanos deben seguir ese liderazgo, compartiendo nuestras lecciones sobre verdad y justicia frente a las atrocidades en el terreno interno, e impidiendo atrocidades masivas en el regional y global por medio de iniciativas de justicia, mediación y mantenimiento de la paz.
Para decirlo simplemente, la responsabilidad de proteger es la expresión del deseo de respetar y proteger la dignidad humana. Debemos aprovechar la oportunidad del debate de esta semana en la Asamblea General para convertir esta noble promesa en causa de acción.
* Asesor del Fiscal de la Corte Penal Internacional para la Prevención del Crimen
14. Revisiting, and Reviving, the R2P
Op-ed by Ernie Regehr
22 July 2009
This week the UN General Assembly returns to the "responsibility to protect." Since its formal adoption at the 2005 UN Summit meeting, R2P has been a doctrine honoured rather more in principle than in practice, but earlier this year UN Secretary‐General Ban Ki‐moon produced a major report, "Implementing the responsibility to protect," in an effort to shift it from the abstract to the concrete.
The consequences of it remaining an abstract principle are there for us all to see. Today the victims live and die in Afghanistan, the Congo (Kinshasa), Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and all the other places where children, women, and men continue to endure one or more of the four deadly crimes from which the people of the world were promised protection through R2P—genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
In each case the national government is manifestly failing to protect its own people, often for myriad reasons that are certainly not all of their own doing, or not doing. Also, in each case, the international community is having only spotty, if any, success in effectively protecting people who are in extraordinary peril.
The prospect of another debate at the United Nations is unlikely to hearten those who bear the brunt of those crimes. Still, without debate and without some concerted diplomatic and intellectual effort to forge new ways of responding, their particular crises will only deepen and others will be added.
A core suspicion that still attends R2P debates is the worry that the noble objective of protecting vulnerable people will simply be appropriated by the big powers as one more justification for their interference in the affairs of smaller and weaker states. But, at the same time, the main impediment to operationalizing R2P with some measure of consistency is the reluctance of those same big powers to accept any binding obligation to intervene on behalf of vulnerable people outside their own jurisdiction or sphere of interest.
There is at least one positive consequence to this mutual wariness of intervention, and that is greater recognition of and attention to non‐military remedies. The agreement coming out of the 2005 UN summit of course places the primary responsibility for protecting people on national governments: the sovereignty as responsibility principle. (…)
(…)It is clear that the R2P principles are by now well established, thus the Secretary‐General insists in his report that "the task ahead is not to interpret or renegotiate" the doctrine, but is "to find ways of implementing in a fully faithful and consistent manner."
But the Secretary‐General also speaks of the "paucity of will" as an impediment to faithful and consistent implementation of the Responsibility to Protect. Darfur and Somalia are the primary current evidence that the absence of will is especially rooted in the unwavering refusal of the major powers to allow themselves to be formally bound to act in response to unforeseeable external circumstances, no matter how dire the circumstances for the victims.
That refusal to be obligated translates into a decisive reluctance to clearly define the conditions—the warning signs—that should trigger specific actions by the international community in a process of gradually escalating responses to rising conflict and advancing vulnerability. In fact, the Secretary‐General's report, probably anticipating the resistance, specifically rejects the pursuit of "a rigidly sequenced strategy or tightly defined 'triggers' for action."
At the same time, Ban Ki‐moon's report makes a case for undertaking investigations and factfinding missions "early in a crisis" as part of an early warning and response process. But for that to happen, especially early on and consistently in an environment that generally lacks the political will to act, there will necessarily have to be ways to trigger such investigations without having to defer to a heavily politicized decision‐making process. The Security Council, General Assembly, and Human Rights Council, for example, all have investigative powers, but there is not currently a process that automatically triggers or mandates them to investigate when certain warning signs appear. In the absence of such triggers to launch investigations, responses remain subject to the vagaries of case‐by‐case considerations. As a result the international community will in too many, in most, cases continue to avoid action—to the extraordinary peril of vulnerable people in the affected countries or regions.
The new General Assembly debate is unlikely to produce any short‐term benefits for the millions who still face threats of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, or crimes against humanity. That doesn't mean it isn't important. It is still an opportunity for states to reaffirm the basic principle of sovereignty as responsibility and the international community's obligations toward vulnerable people. Above all, the debate should mark the beginning of a genuine transition from abstract principle to the careful tracking of abuses and the delineation of avenues for concrete and consistent action. This is surely one debate that is literally a matter of life and death.
Ernie Regehr is co-founder of Project Ploughshares, adjunct associate professor in peace studies at Conrad Grebel University College, and fellow of the Centre for International Governance Innovation.
15. Uphold Continent's Contribution to Human Rights, Urges Top Diplomat
Op-ed by Mohamed Sahnoun
21 July 2009
This week the United Nations General Assembly is to debate the responsibility of nations and the international community to protect people around the world from crimes such as genocide, ethnic cleansing and war crimes.
This relatively new principle in international relations is in many ways an African contribution to human rights, writes Mohamed Sahnoun, an Algerian diplomat who has served in top posts in the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the League of Arab States and the United Nations. But, he warns, there is a danger that some leaders could either call into question or try to limit the reach of their commitment to protect, jeopardizing one of the most significant human rights achievements of recent years.
In September 2005 an unprecedented World Summit of heads of state and government who met at United Nations headquarters in New York endorsed a new principle in international relations, namely the responsibility of every state and the international community to protect people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In doing so, these leaders agreed never again to be bystanders to the most heinous of crimes.
This week the UN General Assembly will again debate this "responsibility to protect." It is my hope, and that of survivors, advocates and ordinary citizens all over Africa, that our leaders will use the debate to turn their magnificent pledge of four years ago into a means of effective action.
(…)For Africans, the vow to which our leaders subscribed in 2005 was not new. Five years earlier they had already adopted the norm of non-indifference to mass atrocities in the African Union's Constitutive Act. The idea itself of "sovereignty as responsibility" was developed by the Sudanese scholar and diplomat, Francis Deng. And, unlike other regions, our legal systems have long acknowledged that in addition to individuals, groups and leaders having rights, they also have reciprocal duties. So the responsibility to protect is in many ways an African contribution to human rights.
Yet even though the concept has such indigenous roots for Africans, and many of our states champion the responsibility to protect, it remains poorly understood in some parts of the continent. Although I hope this week's debate will offer an opportunity to dispel some of the misconceptions about the principle, there is reason for concern that there are those, including some from within Africa, who will use the debate as an opportunity either to call into question or to limit the reach of their commitment to protect. This would jeopardize one of the most significant human rights achievements of recent years.
What does the responsibility to protect mean in practice for Africa? From my own experience as the UN's Special Representative to Somalia, and the UN/OAU's Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region, I have seen some of the worst things that people are capable of doing to one another; but I have also, at times, seen regional organizations and the UN use both diplomacy and force to prevent the threat of mass atrocities.
When violence exploded in the aftermath of the disputed election in Kenya in December 2007, the country faced the real possibility of mass ethnic violence, with 1,500 murdered and 300,000 displaced. Former Secretary-General of the UN Kofi Annan helped mediate, along with diplomats from around the region and the world, a political settlement that prevented further bloodshed. Much remains to be done, but the prospect of imminent violence has significantly receded.
Kenya shows that the responsibility to protect is not, as some have asserted, an excuse for military intervention. That concern is understandable. But the responsibility to protect is fundamentally about acting preventively, rather than intervening after the atrocities have begun. And preventive action will often be peaceful and consensual, as it was in Kenya. The responsibility to protect will have become truly effective when states, as well as regional and global bodies, heed these early warnings and act before violence spirals into mass slaughter.
There will, however, be cases where coercive action is unavoidable, especially where either the state or its proxies are chiefly responsible for atrocities. Here, too, a range of measures is available to the international community, from the threat of sanctions or international criminal prosecution up to and including military intervention. Statesmen and scholars have come to agree, in retrospect, that such an intervention could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives in Rwanda.
The "responsibility to protect" norm seeks to ensure that such actions will be undertaken only in the face of the most heinous crimes, and only when peaceful means are no longer appropriate. Moreover, coercive measures, whether military or not, will not be carried out unilaterally, or by a "coalition of the willing," but rather will be authorized by the Security Council and thus express the will of the international community.
Africa and human rights
Still, as I know all too well from my work, even the clearest and strongest formulations of the responsibility to protect are not enough to guarantee action at moments of threat. The responsibility to protect, like other human rights norms, will be given life insofar as states embrace its core principles and take it from word to deed.
The 2005 World Summit was a demonstration of remarkable unity among the world's governments. This week's General Assembly debate must serve not as a means to question past commitments. It must be a forum for Africans, and the world, to reaffirm existing commitments and advance our understanding of what the world can do to ensure that we never again abandon people in the face of unspeakable crimes.
Mohamed Sahnoun was co-chair of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, a body which developed the concept of the responsibility to protect. Among many international appointments, he has served as Algerian ambassador to the United States, France, Germany and Morocco and as Deputy Secretary-General of the OAU and of the League of Arab States.
16. UN debate on genocide asks: protect or intervene?
By John Heilprin
21 July, 2009
Out of genocides past and Africa's tumult a controversial but seldom-used diplomatic tool is emerging: The concept that the world has a "responsibility to protect" civilians against their own brutal governments.
At the U.N. General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pushed Tuesday for more intervention for the sake of protection.
"The question before us is not whether, but how," Ban told the assembly, recalling two visits since 2006 to Kigali, Rwanda. The genocide memorial he saw there marks 100 days of horror in which more than half a million members of the Tutsi ethnic minority and moderates from the Hutu majority were slaughtered.
"It is high time to turn the promise of the 'responsibility to protect' into practice," Ban said.
Rwanda's genocide began hours after a plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down as it approached Kigali on the evening of April 6, 1994. The slaughter ended after rebels, led by current President Paul Kagame, ousted the extremist Hutu government that had orchestrated the killings.
"We still find ourselves in a world that has so far been maybe willing, but less likely committed to stop genocide and similar crimes," said Jacqueline Murekatete, a human rights activist who was 9 years old in Rwanda when she lost her entire family to the genocide.
Among those questioning the concept has been General Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, a leftist Nicaraguan priest and former foreign minister who organized a two-day debate starting Thursday. He issued a four-page "concept note" that made clear his reservations.
"Colonialism and interventionism used responsibility to protect arguments," says the paper issued by d'Escoto's office. "National sovereignty in developing countries is a necessary condition for stable access to political, social and economic rights, and it took enormous sacrifices to recover this sovereignty and ensure these rights for their populations."
William Pace, executive director of the World Federalist Movement's Institute for Global Policy, said d'Escoto's views are a "political misuse of the GA presidency" since they contradict the General Assembly's 2005 endorsement of the 'responsibility to protect' doctrine.
"It is not a synonym for military intervention," Pace added.
The idea that the world should take responsibility if nations fail to protect their own population was first promoted by Ban's predecessor, Kofi Annan, in 1999, citing conflicts in Angola, Kosovo, Sierra Leone and East Timor.
It gained huge momentum with the African Union's endorsement in 2000. The General Assembly backed it in 2005, though a budget committee has yet to provide funding for a special adviser's office.
In 2006, the U.N.'s most powerful body, the 15-nation Security Council, threw its weight behind the idea in two legally binding resolutions.
Proponents have recently pushed to implement it in places like Darfur, Congo, Kenya, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.
In May 2008, for example, the council discussed a proposal by France to authorize the U.N. to enter Myanmar and deliver aid without waiting for approval from the nation's ruling military junta. China and Russia, citing issues of sovereignty, blocked the idea.
And in July 2008, Russia and China vetoed U.S.-proposed sanctions on Zimbabwe's leaders, rejecting an attempt by the global community to take action against an authoritarian regime widely criticized for a violent and one-sided presidential election.
At her first appearance before the Security Council in January, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice used the occasion to emphasize that the Obama administration takes the concept seriously. Earlier this month, at the Group of Eight summit in Italy, President Barack Obama called it "one of the most difficult questions in international affairs."
There is no "clean formula" for when to act, Obama said, but there are "exceptional circumstances in which I think the need for international intervention becomes a moral imperative, the most obvious example being in a situation like Rwanda where genocide has occurred."
Ban advised limiting U.N. action under the 'responsibility to protect' concept to safeguarding civilians against genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. He acknowledged the possibility of some nations "misusing these principles" as excuses to intervene unnecessarily, but said the challenge before the U.N. is to show that "sovereignty and responsibility are mutually reinforcing principles."
"Military action is a major last — not first — resort," he said. "No part of the world has a monopoly on wisdom or morality."
17. A Tribuna: Gilberto Rodriguez and Andres Serbin—Responsabilidade de Proteger (Portuguese Language)
. Ban Ki Moon and R2P
Foreign Policy in Focus
3 August 2009
Kofi Annan's greatest achievement as UN secretary general was his deft steering of the UN General Assembly to accept the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine at the 2005 World Summit.
(…) Annan's successor Ban Ki Moon is a staunch supporter of the concept of R2P. The report he delivered last week, as requested in 2005, framed the discussion in a way that precluded reopening the principle. But opponents at the General Assembly and their ideological allies outside were sedulously determined to weaken R2P in practice as much as possible.
(…) To avert attempts to reverse the 2005 declaration R2P's proponents, not least the UN secretariat, are keeping to a tightly written script. R2P isn't the same as humanitarian intervention, they argue. Its three pillars are the responsibility of sovereign states to prevent crimes against their people, the responsibility of the international community to detect and avert such criminal situations, and the responsibility to apply varying degrees of coercion against the perpetrators from monitoring to sanctions to, if necessary, military intervention.
(…) Ban can do a great deal to foment that global opinion, and is giving every appearance of wanting to do so. While the U.S. press treats Ban as invisible, the rest of the world has leant him their ears. In a recent global poll, he was the second most trusted global figure after Obama. Only global public opinion can force the P5 to live up to their responsibilities — the first of which is to ensure that no regime, not even their close friends, has a guaranteed veto against international action.
The single most significant step the United States could take to disarm some of the critics is to reverse John Bolton's dubiously legal "unsigning" of the Rome Treaty on the International Criminal Court. Washington can hardly call upon the Sudanese to respect the indictment of a court that it has refused to accept itself. To ensure greater global public support for R2P — and answer some of the legitimate charges of the doctrine's critics — the United States must end its own double standards on international treaties and military intervention. Obama is more likely than any president in 40 years to make moves in that direction, so R2P has more of a future than it did a year ago.
19. The State’s Duty to Protect: Enforcement in Question
George M. Anderson
10 August 2009
A nation-state’s duty to support and defend its population, known as the responsibility to protect, or R2P, was the subject of a debate at the United Nations General Assembly in July. (…)The July debate, the first on the subject at the United Nations since 2005, reflected the fact that not all member states agree on how to implement the three pillars that support it.
(…)The very concept of R2P stems from a positive view of sovereignty as responsibility. But past events like those in Rwanda, as well as ongoing conflicts in Darfur, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia, show that this positive view of sovereignty is not shared by all. The three pillars of R2P are not thought to be of equal height, and what rests on top of them can therefore be unbalanced. The answer may well lie, as d’Escoto Brockmann said in his opening statement, in the creation of “a more just and equal world order, including in the economic and social sense, as well as a Security Council.” In the meantime more needs to be done to build trust and to recognize that pillar three may provide the only solution to some otherwise intractable situations. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it in an open letter to the member states, “If a state cannot or will not prevent or end these crimes, then the international community must...take decisive action...by protecting vulnerable peoples when States are unwilling to do so.”
Most would not deny that the R2P principle has been misused by powerful nation-states. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has said that it had been inappropriately used in conflicts like the largely American-led invasion of Iraq. But there have been some notable victories. In his report, the secretary general spoke approvingly of the way the international community’s timely intervention in Kenya took place early enough to forestall further bloodshed after the disputed election of 2008. As he put it, “If the international community acts early enough, the choice need not be a stark one between doing nothing and using force.” Less than stark choices are now available, if the needed political will is brought to bear.
II. US House of Representatives debate on challenges facing UN Peacekeeping operations
On July 29, 2009 The US House of Representative Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing entitled “New Challenges for International Peacekeeping Operations”. Below are excerpts from Chairman Berman’s Opening Remarks, Ambassador Susan Rice, and Special Adviser to the SG on the Responsibility to Protect Edward Luck.
1. Chairman Berman's opening remarks
US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs
29 July 2009
(…)But the purpose of this hearing is to examine the challenges faced by international peacekeeping operations, and to explore various options for making such operations more effective, particularly in protecting innocent civilians.
(…)The demand for resources often exceeds the supply provided by the international community, and as a result, peacekeeping missions frequently lack the troops, helicopters and other equipment they need.
At a time when peacekeepers are increasingly deployed in complex and unstable situations, and sometimes become the targets of combatants, that can be a recipe for disaster.
The United States has taken some important steps to address the lack of capacity and resources.
(…)One of the key tests of the international peacekeeping system is its ability to protect civilians, consistent with the emerging international norm known as “the responsibility to protect.”
This concept, endorsed by the UN Security Council in 2006, holds that states have a responsibility to protect their citizens from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
Should they fail to do so, the international community has a responsibility to step in and protect threatened populations – with the use of force if absolutely necessary.
But strong words have not always been matched by strong actions.
Since 1999, when a UN peacekeeping operation was established in the Eastern Congo, over 5 million people have died as a consequence of war, and an additional 45,000 perish every month.
And in conflict zones from Congo to Bosnia to Darfur, peacekeepers have been unable to prevent the use of rape as a weapon of war, and even genocide.
How can we equip the United Nations to more effectively protect civilians and prevent mass atrocities?
What can the United States do at the Security Council to discourage or overcome political foot-dragging – as we saw in Kosovo and Rwanda – that prevents rapid deployments at times of humanitarian crisis?
What is our strategy for making sure that women form a critical mass of peacekeepers and peacemakers, both to reduce sexual violence in conflict and to ensure that post-conflict reconstruction prioritizes the wellbeing of women and girls?
And finally, the key question: Is the international peacekeeping system, as it is conceived today, capable of preventing genocide, ethnic cleansing and other mass atrocities?
Or do we need to develop an entirely new model for our increasingly complex world?
We thank Ambassador Rice and our other panelists for being here today to share their insights on this important set of issues, and we do look forward to your testimony.
2. Written Testimony Submitted by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on “Confronting New Challenges Facing United Nations Peacekeeping Operations,”
US mission to the UN in New York
29 July 2009
(…)The Administration recognizes that many of today’s peacekeeping operations face significant limitations and challenges. But we believe it is important to continue the long and bipartisan tradition of U.S. support for UN peacekeeping because, like our predecessors, we also know that it addresses pressing international needs and serves our national interests.
There are five compelling reasons why it is in the U.S. national interest to invest in UN peacekeeping.
First, UN peacekeeping delivers real results in conflict zones. UN peacekeepers can provide the political and practical reassurances warring parties need to agree to and implement an effective cease-fire. Their deployment can help limit or stop the escalation of armed conflict and stave off wider war. But today’s UN operations do much more than just observe cease-fires. They provide security and access for humanitarian aid to reach the sick, the hungry, the vulnerable, and the desperate. They help protect vulnerable civilians and create the conditions that will let refugees return home. And, they help emerging democracies hold elections and strengthen the rule of law (…)
Second, UN peacekeeping allows us to share the burden of creating a more peaceful and secure world. America simply cannot send our armed forces to every corner of the globe whenever war breaks out. Today, UN peacekeeping enlists the contributions of some 118 countries, which provide more than 93,000 troops and police to 15 different UN operations (…)
Third, UN peacekeeping is cost-effective. The total cost of UN peacekeeping is expected to exceed $7.75 billion this year. Yet, large as this figure is, it represents less than 1 percent of global military spending. The United States contributes slightly more than a quarter of the annual costs for UN peacekeeping. The European Union countries and Japan together pay more than half the UN’s peacekeeping bill. We estimate that the U.S. share of the Fiscal Year 2009 costs will reach $2.2 billion. We are grateful to Congress for the appropriations that will enable us to make our payments in full during Fiscal Year 2009, as well as address arrears accrued from 2005 to 2008 (…)
Fourth, the United Nations is uniquely able to mount multi-faceted missions. We have learned in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere how important it is to have an integrated, comprehensive approach. The UN has particular expertise here: it can pull political, military, police, humanitarian, human rights, electoral, and development activities together under the leadership of a single individual on the ground. And this involvement can be critical even in cases where the UN does not provide the troops; largely civilian UN missions in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan have assumed vitally important civilian and police responsibilities, working alongside U.S., NATO, and other forces. The Special Representatives of the UN Secretary-General who head these operations often play indispensable roles—mediating disputes, advising fledgling democracies, coordinating international assistance, and leading UN efforts in country.
Fifth, sometimes warring parties won’t let other outside actors in—except for the UN. Governments, rebels, warlords, and other antagonists often don’t want foreign forces in their country. But the UN’s universal character and unique legitimacy can make it a little easier for some governments to decide to let constructive outsiders in. The UN’s unmatched ability to draw forces from a range of countries and to choose effective, trusted international mission leaders can provide further reassurance. And the UN’s political and development tools reduce the potential that peacekeepers will be seen as occupiers.
All of these factors make UN peacekeeping an effective and dynamic instrument for advancing U.S. interests. It relieves the burden on our brave men and women in uniform. It saves American lives and American dollars over the long run. It brings to bear unique expertise, versatility, and credibility. And it is often the only available option. As a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, the U.S. exercises full control over where and when a UN operation is established, and what tasks it is authorized to perform. Once we decide to adopt a peacekeeping mandate, it is in our national interest to promote its successful implementation (…)
3. Briefing on “The Responsibility to Protect: Implications for International Peacekeeping Operations”
US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs
Statement by Dr. Edward C. Luck
29 July 2009
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to brief this distinguished Committee on the responsibility to protect and its implications for international peacekeeping operations. At the outset, let me express the standard caveat of an international civil servant briefing a Member State parliament. In accordance with past practice, my attendance today before the Committee is on a purely informal basis, and nothing in my oral remarks and written briefing statement should be understood to be a waiver, express or implied, of the privileges and immunities of the United Nations or its subsidiary organs under the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.
The Responsibility to Protect
Let me begin with a few words about the evolving concept of the responsibility to protect, commonly referred to by its RtoP or R2P acronym, and then turn to the implications of RtoP for international peacekeeping.
Four years ago, at the World Summit, the assembled heads of State and government agreed to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity and to prevent their incitement. They agreed, as well, on the need for the international community to assist the State in fulfilling this responsibility to protect and to respond in a “timely and decisive manner,” under Charter rules and procedures, when national authorities are “manifestly failing” to meet their responsibility and peaceful means have proven “inadequate.” Subsequently, the Summit’s Outcome Document was adopted unanimously by the General Assembly and the Security Council affirmed its RtoP provisions.
Earlier this year, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented the General Assembly with a detailed plan for implementing this historic, unanimous, and unqualified commitment. Drawing on the provisions of the Outcome Document, the Secretary-General posits that RtoP rests on three co-equal pillars: 1) the protection responsibilities of the State; 2) international assistance and capacity-building; and 3) timely and decisive response (…)
Peace Operations and RtoP
In contemporary UN parlance, “peace operations” serves as an umbrella term to encompass the whole range of peacekeeping, peacebuilding, and, in extreme situations, peace enforcement missions. As noted above, the linkage between RtoP and post-conflict peacebuilding is widely understood and accepted. The choice of Burundi and Sierra Leone as the first two country situations to be addressed by the PBC underscored this connection.
Unfortunately, however, editorial writers and media pundits usually associate RtoP with the other end of the spectrum, i.e., with the coercive use of force to compel national authorities and/or armed groups to stop threatening or committing mass atrocity crimes. Perversely, that is the aspect of RtoP that is most contentious among UN Member States and least likely to be invoked, especially if the preventive and non-coercive aspects of the strategy succeed. Even the third – response – pillar involves a wide array of options under Chapters VI, VII, and VIII of the Charter, ranging from mediation and fact-finding and working with regional and sub-regional partners to references to international tribunals, sanctions, and other enforcement measures. In Côte d’Ivoire and Kenya, for example, timely quiet diplomacy led to the cessation of incendiary media that could have incited much greater domestic violence. The Security Council, under Article 34 of the Charter, can investigate any situation that “might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute.” As the Secretary-General has underscored, what is needed is “early and flexible response, tailored to the specific needs of each situation.”
As the title of this session rightly suggests, Mr. Chairman, the most urgent challenges, both conceptually and materially, are now to peacekeeping, not to its enforcement and peacebuilding cousins. Over the past decade, the Security Council has regularly assigned UN peacekeeping operations the additional task of protecting civilians (POC). This is at a time when attacks on civilians, including large-scale sexual violence, by rebel groups and government forces alike have become an almost commonplace feature of contemporary conflict. In a number of these theatres, peacekeepers are confronted by multiple armed groups, as national governments cannot control their territories. Clearly these are vastly more demanding situations than the more static and predictable ones assigned to inter-positional peacekeeping in earlier years. As the “New Horizons” study notes, POC mandates place an emphasis on “police, rule of law, human rights, and humanitarian actors.” These components – like the military ones – tend to be in short supply. Moreover, most national militaries “do not traditionally maintain proactive civilian protection doctrines, operating concepts or tactics beyond the requirements of international humanitarian law.” (…)
In sum, Mr. Chairman, at a time of peacekeeping overstretch, when more is being asked of the blue helmets in more places than ever before, one could well query whether the responsibility to protect might prove to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Is it going to add one more layer of demands on the already overburdened military, police, and civilian personnel deployed by the UN in many of the world’s most difficult theatres? There are several reasons to think not. One, RtoP emphasizes prevention. If it succeeds, then the demand for UN peace operations might actually decrease in some places. Two, it largely utilizes non-military means. Three, it occupies a rather narrow, though immensely important, segment of the POC spectrum. Four, most RtoP-type interventions in the past have been carried out by regional, not global, actors and there is no reason to assume a reversal of this pattern in the future. Five, the most demanding scenario – a coercive intervention against the will of the government of the country – is the least likely one. In such an extreme case, moreover, regional action, authorized by the Security Council, would be a more feasible route than enforcement action by the UN itself. The world body is also not well positioned to provide military assistance to a beleaguered government when rebel groups are the ones violating RtoP standards. It seems more feasible, on the other hand, to envision additional consent-based preventive deployments of UN peacekeepers down the road, as in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Such missions, however, should not be as demanding as many of the UN’s current assignments.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I would like to commend you for convening this most timely discussion of the growing challenges to international peacekeeping and for including the responsibility to protect on your agenda. This relationship demands further reflection and your efforts to shed light on it are most appreciated. Thank you for your attention.
4. UN Ambassador Says US Committed to Peacekeeping
By Dan Robinson
Voice of America
29 July 2009
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, says the Obama administration is committed to supporting international peacekeeping operations, including reforms to address issues such as misconduct by peacekeepers. Rice also addressed specific trouble spots in Africa, including the conflict in Somalia.
Ambassador Rice said the Obama administration is moving ahead on several fronts to support peacekeeping, including working with Security Council members on a better process of formulating credible and achievable mandates for U.N. operations.
The United States is contributing $2.2 billion of a $7.8 billion U.N. peacekeeping budget for 2009.
Rice said the United States strongly supports reforms that will save money, strengthen oversight, transparency, accountability and planning, reduce deployment delays, and prevent fraud and abuse, including a zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation by peacekeepers. "It is prevalent in Congo and Liberia, Sudan and elsewhere. And these need to be addressed in a very serious way when they are committed by combatants as well as peacekeepers," she said.
The situation in Somalia, as well as challenges facing U.N. peacekeepers in Sudan's Darfur region, emerged as a key a focus of questioning by lawmakers on the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Rice said the ability of the U.N. force in Darfur to do its job has been made worse by the Khartoum government denying access to and expelling humanitarian workers and blocking delivery of critical support.
"While President Obama's special envoy on Sudan, General Scott Gration, helped persuade the government of Sudan to let four new humanitarian NGO's [non-governmental organizations] in, we continue to urge Khartoum to fill the gaps in critical humanitarian aid services and to improve its cooperation with UNAMID," she said.
The United States has provided humanitarian aid, as well as 80 tons of military support to the Somalia Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu. Rice said the United States has an enormous stake in the survival of that administration and the "defeat of al-Shabaab" and other extremists groups affiliated with al-Qaida.
Rice also had some sharp criticism for Eritrea, which she said is arming, supporting and funding al-Shabab and helping to destabilize Somalia and the region with a direct impact on U.S. security.
Ambassador Rice signaled that Eritrea could face international action, including sanctions, if it does not change its behavior in Somalia.
"As I said in New York, there is a very short window for Eritrea to signal, through its actions, that it wishes a better relationship with the United States and the wider international community. If we do not see signs of that signal in short order, I can assure you that we will be taking appropriate steps with partners in Africa and the Security Council to take cognizance of Eritrea's actions both in Somalia and the wider region," she said.
Rice said the United States does not support a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Somalia, saying the African Union force is the best approach at present because it has been largely accepted by the population there.
In Wednesday's hearing, House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman said it is in America's interest to support U.N. peacekeeping. But he also posed this question.
"Is the international peacekeeping system, as it is conceived today, capable of preventing genocide, ethnic cleansing and other mass atrocities, or do we need to develop an entirely new model for our increasingly complex world?"
In addition to challenges facing U.N. operations in Darfur, Ambassador Rice said missions in Chad and Congo also lack critical equipment, such as helicopters, needed to help vulnerable civilians.
Ambassador Rice cited Liberia as an example of the importance of U.N. peacekeeping, saying hard-won progress there could unravel if peacekeepers leave too soon because of continuing weaknesses in the army, police and justice systems.
In Haiti, Rice said the Obama administration supports extending the U.N. mission, which she said is "on track and well-led," at least until upcoming elections and hopes that the involvement of former President Bill Clinton, who is the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, will help contribute to that nation's economic health and stability.