PEACEKEEPERS MUST DO MORE THAN WATCH
By Joseph Quesnel
5 May 2007
Let's hope United Nations peacekeepers expected to deploy in Sudan do a better job than the African Union in helping to stem the violence that has already engulfed Darfur.
It took diplomatic pressure over a long period to convince the Sudanese government to accept African Union forces. Since deployment, however, they have not been able to stop the bloodshed.
Once again, another international peacekeeping body is being asked to referee a conflict requiring military action. If nothing else, troops should be able to defend aid workers bringing relief to civilians.
() These issues are complicated. Initially, Sudan insisted on African Union peacekeepers only. This makes sense, but they have proven ineffectual. Does that mean we cannot send any one just because they aren't African?
Entering sovereign countries, even where human rights abuses are involved, is a serious matter and could set negative precedents. The world has not defined the limits of the so-called Responsibility to Protect. This international commitment recognized that states have an obligation to protect citizens from genocide and ethnic cleansing.
That's nice, but very academic. The principle also recognizes a right for the international community to respond, which is trickier.
Predictably, states where governments are not protecting citizens will resist giving the commitment real teeth. Sudan is a case in point. The state itself is involved in the atrocities and resisted outside intervention. This is a familiar pattern.
I also have a problem that a world made up of non-democratic countries, many showing bias and hostility towards the U.S. and Israel, would be defining this Responsibility to Protect.
This principle must be defined concretely and fairly.
Otherwise, we will only see more tragedies and more academic debates about why the world did nothing.
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