The Stanley Foundation is a nonpartisan foundation dedicated to advancing rincipled multilateralism as well as working on global governance and peace and security policy. The Courier is a quarterly magazine that the Stanley Foundation releases on their priority projects and publications. The following article examines the policy challenges ahead of the incoming U.S. administration in addressing conflict and the Responsibility to Protect.
The 1990s were supposed to bring a great eace dividend after the end of the Cold War. In a world no longer divided by bipolar ideological conflict, then-UN Secretary-General Boutros-Boutros Ghali oversaw the greatest expansion of UN peacekeeping missions ever to conflict-torn areas.
However, this hope for greater world peace was soon dashed on the rocks of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity in the former Yugoslavia, Somalia, Rwanda, Darfur, and the Congo. () Amidst this seemingly endless strife, global peacekeepers and troops from major powers alike soon found themselves in untenable situations of neither peace nor all-out interstate warfare, without the proper doctrine, tools, or training to keep the conflicts from escalating into mass human atrocities. It was not only the legitimacy of peacekeeping that was threatened. Traditional forms of refugee protection often proved to be a band-aid at best, as even UN refugee camps were soon used and abused by unscrupulous militias, paramilitaries, and other state and nonstate disputants to gather UN supplies for their own benefit and leverage the refugees desperate plights to their own violent ends. ()
Moving From Words to Deeds
ctualizing the Responsibility to Protect was the topic of the Stanley Foundations 43rd conference of the United Nations of the Next Decade. It is also the subject of a recent article by Edward C. Luck, senior vice president and director of studies at the International Peace Institute and special adviser to the UN secretary-general, in which he primarily focuses on the responsibility to protect.
It has been Kofis successor, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has spoken repeatedly of his determination to perationalize the responsibility to protect and to translate it rom words to deeds. And this brings in the absolutely crucial question of the US role in preventing mass atrocities, mitigating them when they occur, and rebuilding conflict-torn nations after conflict subsides.
Core questions for the future of US foreign policy and US national security doctrine include:
Does the United States view as central to its policies the security threats posed by fragile, weak, failing, and failed states in sensitive regions of the globe, including states weakened by such problems as drug trade, terrorism, human trafficking, money laundering, and other various forms of illicit behavior?
Does the United States believe that the Genocide Convention should be enacted, which in practical terms would include prosecuting perpetrators of this crime at the International Criminal Court?
Does the United States ever want to get to the point of having the US military intervene in such conflicts to prevent or stop mass violence?
Does the United States want better civilian capacities to deal with these conflicts in terms of diplomatic prevention and post-conflict peacebuilding and reconstruction?
Does the United States care to improve its relationship with the United Nations, both in terms of supporting individual UN agencies on the ground in ountries at risk and in terms of supporting the Secretariat in New York in pressing forward on this agenda?
One thing is certain: whether or not the United States truly embraces this evolving legal and normative framework, the globe will be plagued for an indefinite period by the specter of weak and failing states.
Nontraditional conflicts in these areas are likely to involve mass and illicit violence against unarmed civilians. In this circumstance, the responsibility to protect has a chance of providing the international community, including the United States, with the conceptual platform for concerted action. ()
Actualizing the Responsibility to Protect, Report of the 43rd Conference of the United Nations of the Next Decade, sponsored by the Stanley Foundation:
Edward Luck: The United Nations and the Responsibility to Protect, The Stanley Foundation: http://www.stanleyfoundation.org/publications/pab/LuckPAB808.pdf