The Mantle Hosts Roundtable Discussion on RtoP
Another Power Vacuum: Can the Doctrine of Responsibility to Protect Truly Work?
Inaugural virtual roundtable
7 October 2009
The Mantle, a forum for contemporary thought on social and political discourse where today’s leaders in spreading awareness and creating policy share and debate contemporary issues including books, film, cultural elements, and other political questions, recently hosted its first virtual roundtable. Virtual roundtable discussions bring in experts who are currently working on political questions to present their informed opinions to discuss the issue with their contemporaries.
This inaugural roundtable focused on the Responsibility to Protect. The roundtable was moderated by Marie Mainil, from the Program on International Policy Attitudes in Washington D.C. Ms. Mainil put forth the question, Given the spirit of the R2P doctrine (that states have an obligation to protect populations from genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and war crimes), how do we reconcile a state-centric bias of R2P and its potential for use in places where no state exists or functions? Is this a contradiction, in theory and/or in practice that must be remedied? If yes, how so?
The participants in this roundtable were Marion Arnaud, from the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect, Jonas Claes, from the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention, Savita Pawnday, from the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, and Sarah Teitt, from the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. These leading specialists discussed the applicability of the three-pillar approach mentioned in Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s report Implementing the Responsibility to Protect, the need for political will and capacity building, as well as other important concepts relating to the norm.
Marion Arnaud, from the ICRtoP, builds on her argument, that, “Even though the very definition of R2P relies on the state’s own responsibility to protect its populations from the four crimes …the emerging norm includes comprehensive measures that explicitly relate to weak and/or noncompliant states,” by highlighting the actions available to the international community through both Pillars Two and Three mentioned in UN SG Ban Ki-moon’s report that apply specifically to weak or failed states. Ms. Arnaud discusses the possibilities for international assistance and capacity building, and cites strengthening the state’s security sectors, creating a stand-by or rapid response civil and police capacity, and supporting regional, sub regional, and UN mechanisms. She also elaborates on the third, and most controversial, pillar, citing diplomatic pressure, fact finding missions, ICC referrals, economic pressures, and in extreme cases, military force. All these actions are mechanisms designed to focus the international community’s efforts towards implementing RtoP in weak and failing states.
Ms. Arnaud concludes her statement with the following, “The R2P framework offers several measures available to the international community to assist the state to strengthen its capacity and ability to protect its population, or to intervene with peaceful or coercive measures to halt state or non-state actors from committing mass atrocities. Thus, there is no inherent contradiction within the norm in its emphasis on the primary responsibility of the state and the ability to assist or intervene in failed state situations.”
The virtual roundtable can be seen at http://www.mantlethought.org/roundtable/r2p