Christina/ May 15, 2011/ Ideas of philosophy

A term that sounds like a Rap-Song: R2P – “Responsiblity to Protect”. And who protects whom? Wikipedia gives us a clue: “The responsibility to protect (RtoP or R2P) is a norm or set of principles based on the idea that sovereignty is not a privilege, but a responsibility.”

Participating in a lecture held by Dr. Ute Lampe past friday at a general meeting of the “die Linke” party focussing on the lawfulness of the NATO-attac on Libya I was told about the origin of that “responsibility”. It is about the failure of the United Nations towards the Rwanda genocide.

According to the World Summit Outcome Document of 2005 § 138 and § 139 every state has the responsibility to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes agains humanity. Furthermore § 138 says and that is very important for the later-on discussions, that ” the international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability”.

§ 139 stipulates the means of the international community: “The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity”.

Let’s record two things so far: States are obliged to protect its population from any kind of (mass-)crimes and the international community is urged to support such efforts, if necessary, with PEACEFUL and DIPLOMATIC means.

Still the question concerning the sovereignity of individual states has to be resolved. According to the resolution that sovereignity seems to come to an end the moment the state allows for mass crimes as mentioned above. This however seems to be reproducible in terms of Western comprehension of democracy and human rights. A second “Rwanda” is unthinkable. Likewise the R2P-resolution should by no means become the fig leaf of the West covering raw material and stability interests.

What is missing in the case of the NATO-engagement in Libya is clear: transparency. Transparency on the action taken of the West, transparency on the goals of the military interference, transparency on the use of diplomatic and peaceful possibilites in this conflict and transparency on how Libya might continue in case of a downfall of the Gaddafi regime. The anxious remaining question is: Are we in for another Afghanistan- or Iraq dilemma? And did they not say at the beginning of this all that Gaddafi’s armory is an old one and that the conflict will be settled in no time?

I wonder if this is in the truest sense of “Responsibility to Protect”? Maybe the lecture “disputation on the engagement of the Nato in Libya” scheduled for next tuesday,17.05.2011 at 19:00 Uhr, location: TU Altgebäude, Pockelsstr. 4, PK 4.3 will enlighten us on that.

Further readings:

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