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Responsibility to Protect Essay

Responsibility to Protect Essay

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Published by: Alexandra Lort Phillips on Apr 21, 2011
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Alexandra Lort Phillips W1320533 April 5
th
2011LLM Dispute ResolutionInternational Human Rights Module 1LM 7B2
The responsibility to protect is humanitarian intervention by another name
IntroductionThe statement refers to the term responsibility to protect, also known as R2P (used interchangeablyin this document), which is a doctrine of international law that has emerged in the relatively recentpast, since 2001, the norms of which are still being established.
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The term humanitarianintervention has a long history
2
and its use precedes the responsibility to protect. Both doctrinesare concerned with protecting civilian individuals from the abuses of their own states and becausethe issue of state sovereignty is at the heart of the matter they can both be seen to have emergedfrom a much longer historical tension between sovereign state power and individual human rights.Both are linked with the notion of a just war which is dates back many hundreds of years. In orderto differentiate the two it will be necessary to define the terms and provide examples of theirdifferences. R2P emerges as a broader doctrine within which humanitarian intervention can befound although many it seems would rather the term humanitarian intervention was replacedaltogether. The debate about them attracts both enthusiastic and cynical views within an alreadycontroversial field where politics and international law meet.Sovereignty and Human RightsThe issue of sovereignty, a norm enshrined in the UN charter articles 2.1 and 2.4
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is defined assupreme authority within a territory
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yet its fundamentality poses a challenge when civilianswithin a territory are at risk therefore a tension arises:[d]oing something to rescue non-citizens facing the extreme is likely to provoke thecharge of interference in the internal affairs of another state, while doing nothing can leadto accusations of moral indifference.
5
 The ascendance of human rights in international law since 1945 means the rights of states in termsof sovereignty have begun to be circumscribed over time. The Universal Declaration of HumanRights 1948 founded principles of individual rights and later conventions strengthened these. Theemergence of R2P can be seen as another way in which sovereignty has been influenced by human
1
The term was first used as the title of the report produced by the International Commission on StateSovereignty and Intervention in 2001
2
International Commission on State Sovereignty and Intervention Report,
The Responsibility to Protect (Ottawa, 2001), p. 9
 
3
UN Charter
4
Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophyhttp://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sovereignty/#1 
5
Wheeler, Nicholas J. (2000)
Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society,
OxfordUniversity Press, p. 1
 
Alexandra Lort Phillips W1320533 April 5
th
2011LLM Dispute ResolutionInternational Human Rights Module 1LM 7B2
rights. The current crisis in Libya is a stark example of the challenges faced by the internationalcommunity when a state turns on its own people and serves as a useful illustration of both concepts.The Libyan situation has thrown human rights activists into opposing camps with some calling forintervention in the form of a no-fly zone over Libya
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to protect innocent civilians and preventdeaths while others condemned it as foreign intervention for geostrategic purposes likely to result infurther unnecessary civilian suffering. The question today is how much the responsibility to protectcould be said to be the same in all but name to humanitarian intervention. R2P may have beendesigned to reposition or re-frame humanitarian intervention but the statement asks us to believethat the newer doctrine is essentially the same as the older. It is possible to describe fundamentaldifferences in terms of meaning, obligation, origin and realisation of the terms but despite this theissues around both are still being debated.Responsibility to ProtectThe term responsibility to protect emerged following a report commissioned by the government of Canada in response for calls by the then Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan for theinternational community to answer questions about responses to potential or actual human rightsabuses against populations by their own state. During the 1990s it appeared that there was a lackof consistency about who, when and how the international community should respond to statesthat attack, or fail to protect, their own populations. Therefore the challenge of standardisinginternational collective responses to such situations was laid down by in pleas to the United NationsGeneral Assembly in 1999 and 2000. In the aftermath of conflicts in Somalia, Kosovo and Bosnia,where collective forces did take action to prevent civilian deaths, and in Rwanda, where theinternational response did not prevent genocide, the Secretary General asked for greater consensusand unity behind the principle that massive and systematic violations of human rights -- whereverthey may take place -- should not be allowed to stand.
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In response to the Secretary Generals callsfor unity and consistency the Canadian government in 2001 announced the InternationalCommission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) who with a number of major
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Online poll action website avaaz launched an online petition in favour of a no-fly zone, seehttp://www.avaaz.org/en/libya_no_fly_zone_1?fpbut was criticised by articles in several left-wing mediaincluding the Guardian newspaper on Thursday 10
th
March, seehttp://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/10/internet-activists-libya-no-fly-zone?CMP=twt_fd and Counterpunch website article by Kate Hudson Chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmamenthttp://www.counterfire.org/index.php/articles/opinion/10997-dont-fall-for-a-no-fly-zone 
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Secretary-General Kofi A. Annan, General Assembly, 20 September 1999, Secretary-General presents hisAnnual Report to the General Assembly. Viewed online athttp://www.un.org/News/ossg/sg/stories/statments_search_full.asp?statID=28 
 
Alexandra Lort Phillips W1320533 April 5
th
2011LLM Dispute ResolutionInternational Human Rights Module 1LM 7B2
foundations
8
made it their goal to consult a wide body of opinion on the matter and report back tothe General Assembly in order to provide clarity, guidance and direction. The resulting documentoutlines basic principles that place responsibility to protect squarely within the meaning of sovereignty yet add that the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibilityto protect
9
where the state in question fails. The report explicitly differentiates responsibility toprotect from humanitarian intervention renaming the latter as military intervention for humanprotection purposes
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presenting responsibility to protect as a range of obligations with militaryintervention for human protection as a final resort with proportionate minimal application. TheICISS report in three main ways describes R2P as a new way of looking at intervention  firstly fromperspective of the community at risk, secondly of the sharing of responsibility of the state with theinternational community and thirdly the need for ongoing prevention and rebuilding work thatshould take place along with any military intervention.
11
The doctrine is described in furthersubstantial documents following the Commission report,
12
World Summit 2005 Outcomesparagraphs 138 and 139,
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debated by the General Assembly in July 2009 and subject of a resolution
8
ICISS Commission Report, 2001 p. 85  ICISS was funded by the Canadian Government, together with majorinternational foundations including the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the William and Flora HewlettFoundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the SimonsFoundation. ICISS is also indebted to the Governments of Switzerland and the United Kingdom for theirgenerous financial and in-kind support to the work of the Commission.
9
See note 2 at p. XI
10
See note 2 at p.9
11
Stahn, Carsten, 2007, Responsibility to Protect: Political Rhetoric or Emerging Legal Norm?,
101
 
 A
merican Journal of International Law,
p.103
12
United Nations reform in the High-Level Panel report on Threats, Challenges and Change in 2004, and in2005 in the Secretary-Generals report In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rightsfor All, the World Summit Outcome report
13
World Summit Outcome Report 2005 paragraphs OP 138: Each individual State has the responsibility toprotect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Thisresponsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate andnecessary means. We accept that responsibility and will act in accordance with it. The international communityshould, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and support the UnitedNations in establishing an early warning capability.OP 139: The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to useappropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes againsthumanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, throughthe Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and incooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate andnational authorities are manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethniccleansing and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for the General Assembly to continueconsideration of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing andcrimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter and internationallaw. We also intend to commit ourselves, as necessary and appropriate, to helping States build capacity toprotect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and toassisting those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out.

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