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Saving R2P from Syria
Patrick Quinton-Brown
Canadian International Council
14 August 2012
Patrick Quinton-Brown is Co-Chair of Toronto-based ICRtoP Member, the Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.
(…) Both critics and advocates agree that Syria is putting R2P in crisis. If the principle is to serve as an international norm and moral imperative to stop mass atrocities, why has it failed to prompt any form of binding resolution from the UN? The third pillar of R2P clearly states that when a state fails to uphold its responsibility to protect, the international community has an obligation to intervene by diplomatic, economic, or, if necessary, military means. (…)
At least rhetorically, both China and Russia justify their vetoes by suggesting that sanctions – or any other kind of coercion, for that matter – will only intensify the flames of the conflict. Moreover, in a manner that Susan Rice describes as “paranoid,” they predict the West will deceptively interpret resolutions to justify military intervention and regime change. To these states and their allies, the language of protection that has characterized recent council debates is simply a moral guise for military recklessness intended to advance national interests.
The current deadlock cannot be understood in isolation from the Libyan experience, which appears to have set an unfortunate precedent for intervention. Instead of lending credibility, R2P implementation in Libya only fuelled suspicions that the principle is synonymous with regime change and loose resolution interpretations. (…)
(…) Now is a prime opportunity to experiment with Brazil’s “responsibility while protecting” (RWP) idea.
(…) By failing to speak up on RWP in Syria, Brazil appears to be adopting the same hypocrisy its new idea is committed to abolishing. It is also missing a fundamental opportunity to assert itself as an emerging middle power.
(…) An upcoming UN dialogue on R2P’s third pillar is scheduled for Sept. 5. If R2P is to ever gain the full support of dissenter states such as China or Russia, scholars and stakeholders must work to ensure RWP gets more attention. (…)
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