6 March 2009
Depauw Universitys Prindle Institute for Ethics hosted the conference on mperfect Duties? Humanitarian Intervention in Africa and the Responsibility to Protect in the Post-Iraq Era on 6-8 March 2009 gathering academics, civil society and UN officials.
A global cross section of academics, politicians, activists and aid workers congregated at the Prindle Institute for Ethics Thursday to hear Gareth Evans deliver the opening address of this weekend's Humanitarian Intervention Symposium. Evans, the former foreign minister of Australia, said he is fundamentally arguing that large-scale murders and human rights atrocities of the Holocaust, Rwanda, Darfur and others should never happen again.
Stopping what Evans called "mass atrocity crimes" will require a change in the international collective mindset, he said. "Let's try to create an environment where the reflex response is not to say, 'That's none of our business,'" Evans said. "Of course it's our business."
Evans was co-chair of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, a group commissioned by the Canadian government to investigate ways the international community could combat the most severe human rights violations. The group's efforts culminated in a doctrine titled "The Responsibility to Protect." Evans' speech outlined the major points of the Responsibility to Protect argument, filled in background of the international approach to past interventions and kicked off a dialogue that will continue during the next two days. ()
Evans then delved into the successes and failures of the doctrine so far in the international community. While ratified unanimously by the U.N. General Assembly, it left some governments and experts uncomfortable. After Evans finished his presentation, the floor opened for questions. David Chandler, a professor at the University of Westminster in London, immediately questioned the doctrine's motivation and feasibility.
"They weren't here to agree," said Executive Vice President Neal Abraham. "You heard a direct challenge, even in the first question." ()