11 April 2012
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Crisis Update on Syria:
Conditions for ceasefire appear unstable amid expanding violence
1. International Crisis Group –Syria’s Phase of Radicalisation
2. Human Rights Watch –In Cold Blood: Summary Executions by Syrian Security Forces and Pro-Government Militias
3. Amnesty International –Syria: Repression continues despite Annan plan hopes
1. Bruce Jones, Foreign Policy –The Options in Syria
2. Asli U. Bali and Aziz F. Rana, New York Times –To Stop the Killing, Deal With Assad
3. Suat Kiniklioglu, Today’s Zaman —What is about to happen in Syria?
4. Simon Adams, The Huffington Post –Rwanda, Syria and the Responsibility to Protect
Syrian government agrees to ceasefire deadline brokered by Joint Special Envoy
Despite a 10 April troop withdrawal deadline – and complete ceasefire deadline of 12 April - set by UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan to end the yearlong violence, attacks have continued with few signs of troop withdrawal. The ceasefire deadline of 12 April was initially articulated by Kofi Annan to ensure the implementation of his six-point plan, announced on 16 March. Contrary to skepticism from the international community - including France and the United States – President Bashar al-Assad accepted Annan’s proposal for the withdrawal deadline on 2 April. The stipulations of the deadline entailed the end of government troop movements towards population centers, the withdrawal of heavy weapons and full troop withdrawal.
The Security Council was also able to reach a consensus on the deadline, and after being briefed by Annan on 2 April, issued a Presidential Statement on 5 April, supporting the Envoy’s plan and the 10 April deadline. The statement also underscored the importance of deploying a mechanism to monitor the ceasefire and called for the Secretary-General to “provide proposals for such a mechanism as soon as appropriate.” Subsequently, on 5 April a UN team arrived in Syria to talk to government officials about the potential deployment of monitors to oversee the ceasefire. The Syrian government later issued additional demands for the ceasefire on 8 April, including a written ceasefire agreement from the opposition and a commitment from regional governments to refrain from arming or financing the opposition. These conditions were refused by the Syrian opposition on 9 April, and the Free Syrian Army, an armed opposition group, warned they would resume attacks if the government did not adhere to the ceasefire deadline. The Assad government maintained on 11 April that it would comply with the deadline and implement a ceasefire the following day, though it reserved the right to respond to “attacks carried out by armed terrorist groups”.
Humanitarian situation worsens despite promise to halt violence
Despite the Syrian government’s commitment to the ceasefire deadline, the humanitarian situation continues to worsen at an alarming rate. According to Syrian National Council representatives in Geneva, over 1,000 civilians have been killed since 2 April, with shelling and mortar fire in the northern village of Marea and the city of Homs on 10 April. Reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch highlighted ongoing rights abuses, from the arrest of minors to extrajudicial executions. In a bid to increase humanitarian aid to the country, International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) President Jakob Kellenberger arrived in Syria on 2 April for a two-day visit, announcing on 5 April that the government had agreed to allow the ICRC to expand its work in the country, including the lengthening of ceasefires when needed to evacuate the wounded and deliver aid.
The impact of the conflict is beginning to take its toll on the countries bordering Syria - over 24,000 Syrians have sought safety in the Turkish refugee camp of Kilis, which reportedly came under fire on 9 April from government forces, wounding at least six people with witnesses reporting that two refugees were killed. Meanwhile, on 9 April Lebanese opposition leader Amin Gemayel voiced concern that the fighting could spill over into Lebanon following the death of one person after Syrian troops fired over the border.
Responses to the escalation of the crisis
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement on 6 April condemning the escalation of violence by the Syrian authorities, stating that the deadline was “not an excuse for continued killing”. Speaking from Russia on 10 April, Syria’s foreign minister Walid al-Moallem said the Syrian government had begun the process of troop withdrawal. Nonetheless, on the same day France, the United Kingdom and United States strongly condemned the ongoing violence since the deadline. British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned Assad and his government that “there should be no doubt that they will be held to account for their actions”. Russia and China - who previously vetoed two Security Council resolutions on the situation in Syria – also spoke against the Syrian government’s actions with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying on 10 April that he believed the government’s efforts to implement the plan “could have been more active and resolute”.
Despite criticisms, Kofi Annan reaffirmed his conviction to the six-point plan on 10 April and stated that all parties must work together to ensure the 12 April ceasefire, though he did submit a letter to the Security Council on 10 April indicating his grave concern at the course of events. In response to the intensified violence on its border with Syria, Turkey reminded that “NATO has a responsibility to protect Turkish borders” on 11 April, suggesting that it might call on the Alliance to assist in such protection.
Opposition meets to plan for the “future state” ahead of second Friends of Syria conference
Ahead of the setting of the withdrawal and ceasefire deadlines, the opposition condemned the crackdown by government forces in a National Covenant for a New Syria, conceived during a conference in Istanbul on 27 and 28 March. The Covenant declared that “in absolute defiance of the regime's crimes and heinous acts, Syrians are, more than ever, resolved to topple the regime by escalating their struggle for their future state”. The document also outlined the opposition’s policy priorities for the next Syrian government.
Meanwhile, on 1 April the 83-nation ‘Friends of Syria’ group met in Istanbul where they held their second meeting. The group issued a statement, which recognized the Syrian National Council (SNC) as the legitimate representative of the Syrian opposition and noted their role as the “umbrella group under which Syrian opposition groups are gathering”. The ‘Friends of Syria’ also announced their intention to provide money for humanitarian aid and communications equipment for the opposition. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States set up a fund to pay members of the Free Syrian Army in an effort to encourage defections from the Syrian government forces. Also during the conference, the Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Louise Mushikiwabo issued a strong condemnation of the violence saying, “While it is true that the independence and sovereignty of States are fundamental to international relations the fight and the right to live - the responsibility to protect - are even more critical for the survival of the community of nations.”
The array of opinions regarding the most effective next steps to protect populations in Syria is reflected in part in the civil society reports and op-eds featured in this listerv.
1. Syria’s Phase of Radicalisation
International Crisis Group
10 April 2012
As the 10 April deadline Kofi Annan (the UN and Arab League joint Special Envoy) set for implementation of his peace plan strikes, the conflict’s dynamics have taken an ugly and worrying turn. Syrians from all walks of life appear dumbfounded by the horrific levels of violence and hatred generated by the crisis. Regime forces have subjected entire neighbourhoods to intense bombardment, purportedly to crush armed opposition groups yet with no regard for civilians. Within the largest cities, innocent lives have been lost due to massive bomb attacks in the vicinity of key security installations. Perhaps most sickening of all have been pictures displaying the massacre of whole families, including the shattered skulls of young children. The first anniversary of what began as a predominantly peaceful protest movement came and went with only scattered popular demonstrations. Instead, there was immeasurable bloodshed.
Annan’s initiative to end the violence and initiate a political transition was greeted with widespread, justifiable scepticism; the Syrian regime’s initial acceptance of his plan was met with even broader disbelief. (…)
Full and timely implementation of Annan’s plan almost surely was never in the cards. But that is not a reason to give up on diplomacy in general or the Annan mission in particular. The priority at this stage must be to prevent the conflict’s further, dangerous and irreversible deterioration. In the absence of a realistic, workable alternative, the best chance to achieve that is still to build on aspects of the envoy’s initiative and achieve broad international consensus around a detailed roadmap.
One of the more disturbing aspects of the recent escalation is that it has not elicited a dramatic response from any key player, making it likely that things will only get worse. The regime has long been locked in a vicious cycle, heightening repression in response to the radicalisation of the popular movement that regime repression was instrumental in bringing about in the first place. The opposition is deeply polarised, between those who harbour the largely illusory hope that the regime will abandon its elusive quest for a “security solution” and those who – by calling to arm rebels on the ground and lobbying for international military intervention – essentially aspire to a “security solution” of their own.
On the whole, the outside word is caught between four costly postures. The regime’s allies, Iran and Hizbollah, have supported it unconditionally and have every incentive to continue doing so. Russia and China put the onus on regime foes at home and abroad to defuse the situation, expecting the former to lay down their arms and join an ill-defined “dialogue”, and the latter to cease all forms of pressure. The West remains confused and ambivalent, having exhausted all sources of diplomatic and economic leverage, fearful of the future and tiptoeing around the question of military options. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have spoken loudly of their intention to arm the rebellion but, even assuming they demonstrate the commitment and follow-through necessary to establish meaningful supply lines, it is hard to see how such efforts would bring a well-armed regime to its knees. Hamstrung between these conflicting stances, Annan’s mission has yet to achieve much traction other than rhetorical endorsements by all concerned. (…)
(…) Given the evolving dynamics, Annan’s mission, however frustrating, likely will remain the only available option for some time. That period should not be wasted awaiting its end or banking on its collapse. Without renouncing prospects for a genuine political agreement on a transition, the priority today must be to de-escalate the violence. This should be attempted by focusing on and fleshing out ideas being advocated by Annan and purportedly endorsed by the regime.
Foremost among these is a UN monitoring mission, details of which remain to be agreed. As witnessed during the previous, short-lived Arab League effort, the presence of monitors cannot end the violence – but it can restrain regime actions and provide space for peaceful protests. (…)
Odds of success admittedly are slim. But far worse than giving this a chance would be to repeat the mistake committed during the last diplomatic, Arab League-sponsored initiative, which also included a monitoring mission: to expect its failure; rush to pull the plug on an unsatisfactory policy; wait for the emergence of an alternative that has been neither considered nor agreed. And then watch, as the killing goes on.
2. In Cold Blood: Summary Executions by Syrian Security Forces and Pro-Government Militias
Human Rights Watch
9 April 2012
Syrian security forces summarily executed over 100 – and possibly many more – civilians and wounded or captured opposition fighters during recent attacks on cities and towns, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
The 25-page report, “In Cold Blood: Summary Executions by Syrian Security Forces and Pro-Government Militias,” documents more than a dozen incidents involving at least 101 victims since late 2011, many of them in March 2012. Human Rights Watch documented the involvement of Syrian forces and pro-government shabeeha militias in summary and extrajudicial executions in the governorates of Idlib and Homs. Government and pro-government forces not only executed opposition fighters they had captured, or who had otherwise stopped fighting and posed no threat, but also civilians who likewise posed no threat to the security forces. (…)
Human Rights Watch called on the UN Security Council to ensure that any UN mission mandated to supervise the six-point plan brokered by the UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan would be in a position to document such crimes. This would be best achieved by sending, alongside military observers, properly equipped human rights monitors able to safely and independently interview victims of human rights abuses, while protecting them from retaliation. (…)
(…) The exact number of victims of the extrajudicial executions is impossible to verify given the difficulties of accessing and evaluating the information from Syria. But Human Rights Watch documented at least 12 cases of executions in Idlib and Homs governorates. Human Rights Watch has received additional reports of many more similar incidents, but included in this report only cases in which researchers personally interviewed witnesses to the incidents. (…)
International human rights law unequivocally prohibits summary and extrajudicial executions. In situations of armed conflict in which international humanitarian law applies, combatants are legitimate targets if they are taking part in hostilities. But deliberately killing injured, surrendered, or captured soldiers would constitute a war crime. (…)
Human Rights Watch has called on the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, impose an arms embargo on the Syrian government, and impose sanctions on Syrian officials as well as rebel commanders involved in serious human rights violations. Human Rights Watch also urged other countries to join the mounting calls for accountability by supporting a referral to the ICC as the forum most capable of effectively investigating and prosecuting those bearing the greatest responsibility for abuses in Syria. (…)
3. Syria: Repression continues despite Annan plan hopes
3 April 2012
Arrests have been continuing in Syria only days after the Syrian government agreed to implement parts of Kofi Annan’s six-point plan, Amnesty International said today. (…)
Amnesty International has received reports that scores of people are still being arrested on a daily basis. The organization is also aware of many cases of people arrested during February and March – for example some nine people arrested at the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression in February – who are still being held incommunicado and have not been released. (…)
Amnesty International said that the measures suggested by Sunday’s Friends of Syria meeting to improve accountability for crimes against humanity in Syria highlighted the failure of the UN Security Council to deliver an international mechanism to hold those responsible to account.
In its final communiqué, the “Friends’ Group” agreed to “develop a multilateral initiative to support international and Syrian efforts to document, analyze and store evidence of serious violations of human rights in order to deter such conduct and lay the foundation for future accountability.”
Amnesty International said that any investigatory measures must be conducted in an independent and impartial manner and should preferably be under UN auspices. The organization reiterated its call for any UN mission deployed to the country as part of the Annan plan to include human rights monitors who would be able to pass vital information to investigators, including at the independent international Commission of Inquiry on Syria.
The organization said that documentation of crimes under international law by monitors was essential to ensure justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators.
Such accountability could be secured by investigations carried out by the International Criminal Court – which Amnesty International has called on the Security Council to make possible – or by national investigations, carried out on the basis of universal jurisdiction, leading to fair trials without the death penalty. (…)
1. What is about to happen in Syria?
11 April 2012
Suat Kiniklioglu has been a member of the AK Party Central Executive Committee since 2009 and is the Director of the Center for Strategic Communication.
These are days when one would like to have a crystal ball to look into in order to see what is going to happen in Syria. Would we see the demise of the Assad regime, or is it more likely that he and his cronies will be able to survive? Will the obstructions created by Russia and China suffice or merely delay the inevitable? Is the White House going to change its inactivity, or will it succumb to election politics in the US?
What seems to be happening right now is a flurry of diplomatic activity that bets on the success of the Annan plan, the results of which we should be able to see within a day or so. Annan has now appealed to Tehran to ask for help, while the Russians play a delicate diplomatic game to limit the damage inflicted on them by the Syrian crisis. Yet, the basics have not changed. Assad's regime continues to attack the opposition forces. Snipers, tanks and the Shabiha are doing overtime. Turkey is expecting the Annan plan to fail and for them to push for a new UN Security Council resolution, which seems unlikely to pass. As was stipulated in our Foreign Ministry statement on Tuesday, Syria is not honoring its commitments in accordance with the UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan. According to the plan, Syria was supposed to immediately cease troop movements, end the use of heavy weapons in population centers and begin the pullback of military concentrations in and around population centers by Tuesday morning. In other words, nothing new on the southern front. (…)
(…) It is clear Assad is not going to compromise or leave unless he sees a credible force ready to intervene against him. Turkey must be the leading force behind such an intervention. Ankara must continue to form a coalition of countries -- preferably with international legitimacy, but this is not necessarily a precondition. (…) The international community has a responsibility to protect the people of Syria, whose regime is clearly not doing that. The UN General Assembly's overwhelming vote provides a clear political expression as to where a crushing majority of countries stand on Syria. The UN Security Council must step up. Most importantly the Obama administration needs to revise its policy on Syria and think beyond US election politics.
In the absence of a diplomatic breakthrough we should arm the opposition. (…) I believe diplomatically what needed to be done has been done. Yet, the main issue -- the removal of the Assad regime and the transition to a normal democratic order there -- remains unresolved. Let us hope that Russia and China will understand that the Annan plan is a last chance for a diplomatic solution and lend their full support and exert due pressure on Mr. Assad. Otherwise, we will be entering a new phase, the parameters of which could turn out to be very discomforting for them.
2. To Stop the Killing, Deal With Assad
Asli U. Bali and Aziz F. Rana
New York Times
10 April 2012
Asli U. Bali is an acting professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles. Aziz F. Rana, an assistant professor of law at Cornell, is the author of “The Two Faces of American Freedom.”
In the wake of the recent Friends of Syria conference, the United States and Middle Eastern powers that include Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are stepping up aid to armed resistance groups in Syria. Under American leadership, the conference pledged $100 million to provide salary payments to rebel fighters.
Whatever the humanitarian intentions, this strategy, along with discussions of “safe zones” and “nonlethal aid,” is misguided at best, and counterproductive at worst. For all the talk about safeguarding civilians, the proposals are far more likely to escalate violence than to reduce civilian casualties. (…)
(…) Aid to opposition forces is fungible; even when it is “nonlethal” or financial, it amounts to arming the rebels and taking sides in a civil war. Those advocating such measures include Sunni-majority countries whose assistance against the Alawite-dominated regime could fuel sectarian and ethnic tensions.
And establishing “humanitarian corridors” on Syrian soil would require defending them to protect fleeing civilians. If foreign forces offered these defenses and came under threat, escalation into direct intervention would be likely. Further, such internationally defended lines would be tempting grounds for armed opponents to retreat behind after their attacks — another scenario that would increase rather than reduce the risk to civilians.
The prospect of intervention must seem welcome to protesters subjected to brutal repression by the government. But the principal requirement of an intervention on humanitarian grounds is the prospect, on balance, that it will offer greater protection to vulnerable civilian populations. And this is absent in Syria. (…)
Ultimately, the best way to reduce violence is to pursue negotiations for a political transition that would include rather than explicitly threaten the Assad government. Given the mortal fears of communities on each side of the conflict, the first goal has to be making clear that all groups have a future in a new Syria.
The six-point plan offered by Kofi Annan, the United Nations intermediary, is a good starting point. But both sides have to treat a cease-fire seriously, and any arms embargo would have to apply equally to each party. Crucially, real negotiations would have to include Iran and Russia. Both have stakes in the Assad government; their involvement in an inclusive mediation process could set the stage for concessions by the government.
Some will argue that we shouldn’t engage with the Syrian government or its backers. But further isolation tells the Assad government and its social constituencies that their only options are victory through mass violence or annihilation. (…)
If we are really interested in protecting the civilian population — rather than using this as a strategic opportunity to flip regional alliances — the benefits of a negotiated transition are clear. It may not reinforce our geopolitical position, but it will help safeguard ordinary Syrians caught in the cross-fire.
3. The Options in Syria
10 April 2012
Bruce Jones is director of the NYU Center on International Cooperation and the Managing Global Order program at Brookings.
The April 10 deadline for Syrian forces to withdraw from major cities set by Kofi Annan, the United Nations and Arab League special envoy for Syria, appears to have come and gone with little change on the ground. Thursday's deadline for a complete ceasefire looks set to pass as well. For now, Annan rightly insists the plan is still on the table. But Syria's last best chance for a diplomatic solution is dying.
If Annan's plan is likely dead, the coroner won't pronounce it for a few more days. Deadlines like these are sometimes rescued in diplomatic overtime. Russian prestige is now on the line, and we may see a last-ditch effort from Moscow to get Assad to comply. The upcoming G8 foreign ministers' meeting in Washington on April 12, where Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will confront an irate Hillary Clinton, might provide an opportunity to break the deadlock between the United States and Russia.
(…) We could still see the Security Council agreeing to a new resolution, calling on President Bashar al-Assad to implement Annan's plan and agreeing to deploy a monitoring force. Still, those hoping for a diplomatic solution to this mess shouldn't fool themselves -- the odds are low.
(…) Annan is nobody's fool. He has long experience with Assad, and knew full well the odds lay against his following through on any diplomatic solution. The former U.N. secretary-general was not counting on Assad's good will, but on producing a plan that could unify the Security Council, shifting Assad's international calculus. It still might. It probably won't.
Annan and current U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon were right to try. Diplomacy sometimes succeeds in unlikely circumstances, and could have forestalled the inevitable deterioration that will now follow. And if diplomacy irrevocably fails in the next few days, then no one can credibly argue that all other options were not exhausted before more forceful measures are used. (…)
There will be new calls for the use of force to achieve regime change. (…)
A more likely scenario was spelled out by Foreign Policy's own James Traub. His argument is that the least bad option may be one of arming the rebels, supporting them politically if they accept certain basic standards of conduct, and engaging in a slow, drawn-out process of bleeding the regime -- what he calls a "neo-mujahideen" strategy. That phrase deliberately invokes the risks as well as potential gains of such an approach, and there should be no doubting that it carries the danger of major escalation and sectarian clashes.
There is a further option that has not been exhaustively examined: that of a multi-national stabilization force. A stabilization force is neither an intervention nor a peacekeeping tool: It has the military capacity of the former, but the intentions of the latter. It does not aim for regime change, but to stop a particular bout of killing and to prevent more. The deployment of such a force helped stop widespread slaughter by the Indonesian army in East Timor in 1999. (…)
A stabilization force of this kind can't fight its way into Damascus. The Syrian regime, or at least the army, doesn't have to formally acquiesce to its deployment, but it does have to signal that it won't fight it on the way in. (…)
Why might Syria's forces hold back? First, it's a lot better than opening the door to aggressive attempts at regime change, if those measures start becoming more credible. Second, as in eastern Congo, the pre-deployment of such a force can change the army's calculation. As my Brookings Institution colleague Martin Indyk has pointed out, the Syrian army has no appetite for a confrontation with Turkish forces, and even preparation of a force could shift its psychology and its assessment of the choices it faces. Western powers can also help by increasing the economic costs on Assad's business-community supporters, by working with international financial institutions to stipulate that debt accrued under this regime should be considered "odious" -- a step that would mean debt incurred under this regime need not be paid back, setting out a deeply uncertain economic future for Assad's business-community supporters.
Who could lead such a force? Turkey has understandably equivocated about the option of using its army to help protect civilians or stabilize Syria. The risks Turkey faces are enormous -- but it might be more willing to see its army deployed as part of a multinational force with international authorization, spreading both the operational costs and the political risk. Gulf states such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which have strongly signaled their desire to support the Syrian opposition, would be more than happy to supply the financing.
Such a force would first have to try to win Security Council authorization. (…) That's already a tough step -- but winning support from China and Russia, veto-wielding members of the Security Council who have already rejected two resolutions targeting Assad, will be even harder. Is it doable?
The odds aren't as slim as one might think. Tactically, the right approach here would be for Turkey to make this proposal, not the United States. The Turks could seek support from its emerging-power friends both inside the Security Council (India, South Africa) and outside it (Brazil, Indonesia). (…)
Russia and China would be much harder pressed to oppose an initiative from these emerging powers than from the usual clutch of Western states in the Security Council. (…)
And if the Security Council won't authorize an international force, NATO or the Arab League could. NATO has been desperate to avoid getting dragged into Syria, but providing diplomatic cover for a multinational force is a different story. (…)
All of this, it bears repeating, is unlikely. There's no overnight deus ex machina here. First, several more days will pass in diplomatic overtime trying to rescue Annan's plan -- infuriatingly so for Syrian civilians, but realistically the right call. Those frustrated by the slow pace of diplomacy must remember that military options will take weeks, if not months, to organize.
Still, faced with a range of other dreadful choices, this one might balance the pros and cons less badly than some. Right now, the so-called international community faces all bad choices, and Assad has the choice of continued slaughter -- in slow motion or high gear. If and when diplomacy does finally fail, the decision to form a multinational force to protect civilians could turn the tables and confront Assad's supporters with bad choices of their own.
4. Rwanda, Syria and the Responsibility to Protect
Simon Adams, The Huffington Post
4 April 2012
At the recent "Friends of Syria" meeting in Turkey, Rwanda's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, declared that despite the distance between Damascus and Kigali, "Rwanda and Syria share the same experiences." She denounced the killing of innocent people by the Syrian government and asserted that, "the responsibility to protect" was "critical for the survival of the community of nations."
The timing was significant. Eighteen years ago this week Rwanda descended into the quickest and bloodiest genocide since the Holocaust. In just 100 days between April and July 1994 an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were murdered. (…)The genocide ended not because of foreign intervention, but because a rebel army eventually succeeded in overthrowing the "Hutu Power" regime.
(…) No more than twenty journalists were present to record Rwanda's horror. (…)
(…) Beyond the media, the role of countries with the power to actually make a difference was shameful. The UN Security Council failed the people of Rwanda. International inertia created an enabling environment for the génocidaires. (…)
(…) The doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) was first developed in the aftermath of Rwanda's genocide and unanimously adopted at the UN World Summit in 2005. The basis of R2P is that all humans have a right to be protected from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. If their own government fails them, the international community is obliged to act.
Last year R2P saved lives in Libya and Cote d'Ivoire. In the midst of the Libyan intervention, President Kagame of Rwanda wrote that, "our responsibility to protect is unquestionable -- this is the right thing to do; and this view is backed with the authority of having witnessed and suffered the terrible consequences of international inaction."
One can not read those words today without thinking of Syria. There is no doubt that the bitter debate over whether NATO overstepped its Libya mandate has hampered efforts at the UN to consistently apply all the preventive, mediated and coercive elements in the R2P toolkit. It also has to be pointed out that Russia and China have acted on the Security Council as several Western powers did in 1994, undermining an effective response.
Over the last year UN inaction has emboldened Assad in his war against his own people. (…)
(…) "Where is the world?"
This is a question we have seen Syrians scrawl upon crude placards in Homs and elsewhere. It is a question that the UN is obligated to answer. And while the diplomatic mission of Kofi Annan must be vigorously supported, the time has arrived to begin contemplating other measures. If Annan's mission fails -- if Assad continues to murder his own people -- then history will not forgive further prevarication.