5 March 2010
International Crisis Group
In an address to the World Affairs Council of Oregon, Mark Schnedier (Senior Vice President of International Crisis Group) discusses the normative background of the Responsibility to Protect as well as the future impediments and challenges of the current Kenya crisis.
(…) There is today one instance, Kenya, where we can see the potential of the Responsibility to Protect- in the background, unstated until after the fact, but very definitely a factor in international decision making to limit the waves of ethnically-linked killings in Kenya in 2008.
(…) According to Ed Luck, the Special Representative to the UN Secretary General for Responsibility to Protect, Kenya is seen as a success story for the UN and R2P:
"So the only time the UN has actually applied this, was in the case of Kenya, early in 2008 after the disputed elections. When there's seven or eight hundred people ... killed, it was not clear there was full-scale ethnic cleansing, but it could well become that or even something greater, and the UN decided to apply R2P criteria and to really make it the focus of the efforts there. And Kofi Anan, the former [UN] Secretary General who was doing mediation on the ground at that time, has said since that R2P was the lens through which he saw his whole efforts there.”
Are we home free? Do we have a universally accepted norm that can ensure the absence of future mass atrocities, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and genocide? Unfortunately not; but we have made a start.
In paraphrasing Elie Wiesel in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, I would say, “None of us in a position to eliminate” mass atrocities; “but it is our obligation to denounce” them “and expose” them “in all” their “hideousness” and to do everything humanly possible to prevent them from every happening again.