The Responsibility to Prevent
Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers)
Bridget Moix and Trevor Keck
The next Congress and administration will have a historic opportunity to rebuild U.S. foreign policy structures to better meet the challenges of the 21st century. ()
In 2007 Congress requested reports from the Departments of State and Defense assessing the ability of the United States to train and guide an international intervention force in keeping with the responsibility to protect. While much attention is focused on the possibility of military intervention to stop atrocities once they are underway, the original concept of the responsibility to protect included three core elements: prevention, reaction, and rebuilding. Of these three, the original R2P commission stated in its report, revention is the single most important dimension of the responsibility to protect.
Rather than focusing on late intervention through military force, Congress should work to strengthen civilian tools and structures that can prevent conflicts from becoming violent and address the conditions that may lead to genocide. Such an approach would save both lives and money. According to the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, the international community could have saved $130 billion during the 1990s and averted direct military interventions by employing preventive approaches to conflicts in Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, Rwanda, the Persian Gulf, Cambodia, and El Salvador.
This report, The Responsibility to Prevent, offers Congress an independent assessment of U.S. capacities to peacefully manage conflicts before they escalate into genocide or mass atrocities. The core recommendations, if implemented effectively, would not only save billions of dollars and thousands of lives, but also avoid the many pitfalls of 11th-hour military intervention. ()
See the full report at www.fcnl.org/issues/item.php?item_id=3426&issue_id=130