Zimbabweans Right to Protection
The National Post
12 February 2009
Senator Hugh Segal is former chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and vice-chair of the Canadian International Council. He successfully drafted a motion in 2007 to remove the Canadian ambassador from Zimbabwe.
Lloyd Axworthy had two breakthroughs as foreign minister: gathering a large consensus and many signatories for a convention and treaty on ending anti-personnel mine use (the Ottawa Treaty) in 1997, and chairing a task force for the UN on humanitarian intervention which came up with the "responsibility to protect" doctrine, later adopted by the United Nations in 2000.
Unfortunately, the "responsibility to protect" commitment seems to have come to an end with Zimbabwe, a humanitarian nightmare and international embarrassment. No country more directly requires international intervention. No population requires protection from its government more urgently. But the world has provided neither.
The "responsibility to protect" convention established two criteria for intervention: a population whose government can provide no help, or one whose government has set about to harm. Today's citizens of Zimbabwe are sadly victimized by both. So why are expeditionary military measures not being put in place to liberate the women being raped by the young thugs of Mugabe's Zanu-PF, the children dying of cholera and the opposition voters who are being tormented, beaten and murdered?
Why have special forces not removed Mugabe (who claims Zimbabwe "is mine") to The Hague? Why has the leadership of the Zimbabwe armed forces (who have a reasonable reputation among African militaries) not been engaged by military colleagues in Africa and elsewhere to become "leaders in relief delivery" and convince Mugabe to leave in the nation's interest? Why has South Africa been allowed to be so hands-off in its alleged hands-on approach? ()
Intervention is sometimes more demanding than just dropping food aid or sending in white UNHCR land cruisers. If the "responsibility to protect" really meant the responsibility to intervene to save lives only when there is no risk of hard feelings or casualties, then the policy proposal shaped by Axworthy's task force should have said so.
The various appropriate American, Canadian, British, French, South African and other potential coalition command centres should be planning the appropriate intervention now. If stealing farms and land from minority citizens, killing and beating opposition voters, plunging the country into famine, raping female supporters of other political parties and allowing cholera to spread while denying its continued existence does not constitute humanitarian destruction, then what does? Does Mugabe's role as a front line anti-apartheid leader buy him a pass whatever cruelties, insanity or brutality he unleashes on his own people?
() A question for Mr. Axworthy, his fellow Liberals and our Conservative government in Canada: Who is now watching Mugabe and learning from his corruption and cruelty and the West's insouciant response?
To read a response from an MDC member in Zimbabwe to this letter, entitled lease Dont Topple Mugabe, see the following link: