‘Responsibility to protect’: the moral imperative to intervene in Syria
The Christian Science Monitor
8 March 2012
If ever there was a need for the use of the international legal doctrine known as “responsibility to protect,”the unfolding tragedy in Syria is it. Thousands of men, women, and children have been systematically shot, tortured, and killed by the Syrian government in its attempt to suppress what it sees as a dangerous and illegitimate uprising. The responsibility to protect doctrine (also known as R2P) is not, at this stage in its development, a full-fledged legal tenet; nevertheless, its status as an emerging norm in international law has had widespread acceptance. (…)
In the face of “gross human rights violations,” it is clear that Syria’s use of sovereignty as a shield is misplaced. The international community should now assume the responsibility that Syria has so flagrantly forfeited; that is, the Security Council, acting pursuant to Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, which authorizes the use of force in the face of a threat to the peace or a breach of the peace, must now act on behalf of the besieged and embattled people of Syria.
(…) It is incumbent upon the international community in general and the United Nations Security Council in particular to show that sovereignty not only implies responsibility but that there are serious consequences to be paid for flouting fundamental international norms.
If this means mobilizing military forces to assist the Syrian opposition, so be it. If Russia and China insist on blocking all Security Council resolutions, then other alternatives, including reliance on NATO and the Arab League, must be found. (…)
R2P presents the international community with a solution to this problem. It is up to them – particularly the US – to muster the political will.
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