Do nations have a ‘responsibility to protect?’

Update: Another example of RtoP?: Ivory Coast

French forces in coordination with the United Nations took over the Ivory Coast’s main airport on Sunday so that planes could land and foreigners could be evacuated as fighting continued in Abidjan between rival presidents. NYT

Note that we don’t often hear much about humanitarian events like this – when the U.S. is not directly involved.

April 2

UN_observerAlthough not directly relevant to Elk Rapids, it is my belief that all citizens should pay attention to international relations and participate in the discussions, at least to some extent. And there are American soldiers, some we know, participating in conflicts that result from the application of international law. Therefore, I want to point out “…the emerging doctrine of the ‘responsibility to protect’ — a landmark notion in international law that countries must intervene to prevent mass atrocities.”  Kristoff in NYT

This evolving notion underpins the current international intervention in Libya, focusing on preventing horrific crimes there. Here is an excellent definition of the term:

Responsibility to Protect (RtoP or R2P): strengthened capacities to prevent and halt genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and mobilize non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to push for action to save lives in RtoP country-specific situations.
International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRroP)

Also see The Responsibility to Protect about United Nations work on this idea

The Kristoff article cited above examines the pros and cons of adopting such a policy, arguing that, in spite of inconsistent application (yes in Libya, no in Darfur, to name two), civilized countries have an obligation to thwart genocide.

I personally am torn between an innate longing to stop these atrocities and a counter-longing to avoid getting entangled directly in such matters. Regarding Libya today, at least there appears to be an evolving international coalition that, in theory with some evidence of practice as well, spreads both the responsibility and sacrifice beyond the United States.As with everything, some people see this as good, some as bad. At minimum, I hope we choose carefully which genocides we try to prevent, because there
is an inexhaustible supply of them.

For more information, browse the ICRtoP Web site.

What do you think of RtoP and America’s endorsement of it in international relations?

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About elkrapidslive

More than a lifelong connection to Elk Rapids
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