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Canada’s Abandonment of the Responsibility to Protect
Kyle Matthews
Centre for International Policy Studies
20 September 2012
(…) While all member states of the United Nations endorsed the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine in 2005, we continue to witness individual countries that employ their veto at the UN Security Council, effectively blocking action. China and Russia have three times gone to bat for the Syrian government in the past 12 months alone. Citing the NATO-led and UN-approved intervention in Libya, both Moscow and Beijing now equate R2P with regime change. The existence of restive minority populations within both countries (for example the Chechens and Tibetans) adds another dimension to their hostility to R2P. (…)
However, the most surprising critic of R2P today is not an autocratic or dictatorial regime. It is a democratic country: Canada.
(…) Whether the current government is distancing itself from R2P for partisan reasons (it was championed by a Liberal government) or because of ideological ones, it does not appear that this doctrine will disappear from the world stage anytime soon. A multitude of think tanks and non-governmental organizations (including the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect) have emerged on the global scene as a direct result of Canada’s past leadership on human rights. R2P is here to stay.
Canada should get back on the bandwagon and join our other allies (including the United States) who support R2P and who realize that the destabilizing effects of mass atrocities have the potential to affect our national security and social cohesion. Canada could elevate its international status by naming a high-level R2P focal point within government, and by rejoining the ‘Friends of R2P’ group in New York. (…)
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