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International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect
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Should the UN React to Every Country in Crisis?
Bernard Shusman
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.

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