The Heritage Foundation
1 May 2008
Following is an article by Steven Groves that analyzes the origins, development and challenges of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine. Special focus is put on R2P advocacy in the international NGO community, especially on the part of the World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP). Mr. Grove constantly argues that the USA should treat the Responsibility to Protect with extreme caution.
The "responsibility to protect" (R2P) doctrine outlines the conditions in which the international community is obligated to intervene in another country, militarily if necessary, to prevent genocide, ethnic cleansing, and other atrocities. Despite its noble goals, the United States should treat the R2P doctrine with extreme caution.
Adopting a doctrine that compels the United States to act to prevent atrocities occurring in other countries would be risky and imprudent. U.S. independence hard won by the Founders and successive generations of Americansould be compromised if the United States consented to be legally bound by the R2P doctrine. The United States needs to preserve its national sovereignty by maintaining a monopoly on the decision to deploy diplomatic pressure, economic sanctions, political coercion, and especially its military forces.
() If the United States intervenes in the affairs of another nation, that decision should be based on U.S. national interest, not on any other criteria such as those set forth by the R2P doctrine or any other international "test."
() The current position of the United States, therefore, is that, while it "stands ready" to take collective action to prevent genocide and ethnic cleansing in another nation, it rejects the notion that it is legally obligated to intervene to prevent such atrocities. This position is in harmony with the U.S. commitment in the Outcome Document in which the United States, as a member of the world community, agreed that it was "prepared to take collective action" to protect vulnerable populations. While hardly a renunciation of the R2P doctrine, the current U.S. position falls well short of committing to a legal obligation to act.
() Only by maintaining a monopoly on the deployment of diplomatic pressure, economic sanctions, political coercion, and military forces will the United States preserve its national sovereignty. Acceding to a set of criteria such as those set forth by the R2P doctrine would be a dangerous and unnecessary step toward bolstering the authority of the United Nations and the international community and would compromise the consent of the American people.
Steven Groves is Bernard and Barbara Lomas Fellow in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.
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