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By kind invitation of Stephen Crabb MP, the Henry Jackson Society was pleased to host a discussion with Jared Genser, Managing Director of Perseus Strategies and Founder of Freedom Now, Thor Halvorssen, Founder of the Human Rights Foundation, Serena Sharma, Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford and United Nations Association (UK) Special Advisor on R2P and Mark V. Vlasic, Senior Fellow and Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University. They examined the complexities raised by this seminal concept and offered their thoughts on how best to approach this challenge which is central to the security of international human rights.
With the recent death of Muammar Gaddafi, the world’s attention is once again turned to the merits of the international intervention in Libya. The NATO-led operation to prevent Colonel Gaddafi’s forces from inflicting mass atrocities on Libyan civilians was the first UN-authorized military intervention which explicitly invoked the “responsibility to protect” principle as grounds for assistance: leaving many to ask, what is the “responsibility to protect,” (or R2P) when does it apply, and what does this mean for future international crises?
In 2001, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) published a report which contained the first definitive articulation of the R2P. The ICISS report formed the basis of the recommendations released by the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change in 2004. At the 2005 World Summit, the General Assembly committed to enforcing the R2P through in the 2005 World Outcome Document. The UN has recognised that sovereignty is not just a right – it is also a responsibility, contained in three pillars:
1. For individual states, which have the primary responsibility to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity;
2. For the international community, to assist states in upholding their responsibility to protect;
3. For the international community, to use appropriate diplomatic and humanitarian means to support states in exercising this responsibility, as well as coercive tactics—diplomatic, legal, economic and, as a last resort, military—to protect populations under threat, in the event a state cannot or will not fulfil its responsibility.
Jared Genseris Managing Director of Perseus Strategies and Founder of Freedom Now, an independent non-profit organization that works to free prisoners of conscience worldwide. Previously, Jared was a partner in the government affairs group of DLA Piper LLP and a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, the global strategy consulting firm. He was named by the National Law Journal as one of “40 Under 40: Washington’s Rising Stars.” Jared formerly taught semester-long seminars about the UN Security Council as a Lecturer at the University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania law schools. He was a 2006-2007 Visiting Fellow with the National Endowment for Democracy. His human-rights clients have included former Czech Republic President Václav Havel and Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Aung San Suu Kyi, Liu Xiaobo, Desmond Tutu, and Elie Wiesel. He holds a B.S. from Cornell University, a Master in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he was an Alumni Public Service Fellow, and a J.D. cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School. Jared is co-editor of The Responsibility to Protect: The Promise of Ending Mass Atrocities in Our Times (Oxford University Press 2011) with former Canadian Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler.
Thor Halvorssen, a human rights advocate and film producer, founded the Human Rights Foundation in the spring of 2005. Mr. Halvorssen began advocating for human rights in 1989 in London by organizing opposition to South African apartheid. After completing his secondary education in the United Kingdom, he attended the University of Pennsylvania; there he became a judicial advisor for students charged inside the college judicial system. Mr. Halvorssen’s advocacy of individual rights earned him an Ivy Day Award from the university president for “protecting freedom of speech on campus.” Having witnessed countless violations of freedom of speech and due process on United States college campuses, Mr. Halvorssen was instrumental in creating and developing the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, serving as its first executive director and then CEO from its founding in 1999 until 2004. Under his decisive leadership, FIRE became the nation’s pre-eminent student rights organization.
Serena Sharma is Co-Investigator on the Responsibility to Prevent project and Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford. Serena was recently appointed as the United Nations Association (UK) Special Advisor on R2P. She holds a PhD in International Relations and a Masters in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). She also holds a BA in International Relations from the University of British Columbia.
Serena’s research focuses on the ethics of war, with a particular emphasis on the just war tradition, humanitarian intervention, and the responsibility to protect. Elements of her research have been published in the Journal of Military Ethics, Global Governance, UBC Journal of International Affairs and others, as well as chapters in edited volumes. She has served as an editor and associate editor of Millennium: Journal of International Studies. Prior to commencing her graduate studies, Serena worked with the former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lloyd Axworthy.
Mark V. Vlasic is an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center, a senior fellow at Georgetown’s Institute for Law, Science & Global Security, and a partner at Ward & Ward PLLC, where he heads the firm’s international practice. A public sector specialist at the World Bank Group, Mark served as the head of operations of the StAR Secretariat, a presidential initiative to help developing countries recover stolen assets from past dictators. Before joining the Bank, he served as a White House Fellow and special assistant to the Secretary of Defense (focused on foreign policy issues), helped advise the President’s Special Envoy to Sudan, and was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service by Secretary Robert Gates. Prior to his government service, Mark practiced law in the litigation, international trade and public policy practice groups at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, and served on the Slobodan Milosevic and Srebrenica genocide prosecution trial teams at the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague. Mark has taught the Iraqi judges that tried Saddam Hussein, served on the U.S. Delegation to the Pan Am 103 “Lockerbie” terrorist bombing trial in the Netherlands, provided commentary to CNN, FOX News, BBC News, Al Jazeera, CBS and NPR, and been published by the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Washington Times, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, the Yale Journal of International Affairs, the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, The Tax Lawyer, USA Today, Legal Times, the Huffington Post, the Toronto Star, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Cayman Financial Review, Americas Quarterly, the Ventura County Star, and the Sudan Tribune. A U.S. Army officer, he has been attached to Capitol Hill and the Defense Attaché Office at the U.S. Embassy in The Hague, and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal. Mark studied business, theology and government at Georgetown University while on an Army
ROTC scholarship, and received his Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center. He holds a Certificate in International Law from The Hague Academy of International Law and conducted post-doctorate research at Universiteit Leiden as a NAF-Fulbright Scholar to the Netherlands. Mark is a member of the Bars of California, the District of Columbia, and the Supreme Court of the United States, and is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He also serves on the U.S. Trade Representative and Secretary of Commerce’s Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Services & Finance Industries.
Transcript of the Event
Stephen Crabb MP
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are going to start now. First of all, good evening and welcome to The Boothroyd Room in Portcullis House. It’s a pleasure on behalf of the Henry Jackson Society and on behalf of the House of Commons, to welcome you this evening. Just to point out, right from the outset, that the entire session will recorded. If that’s an issue for any of you, I apologise, but we are going to record it anyway.
My name is Stephen Crabb and I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with the Henry Jackson Society for a number of years now-chairing and helping host events on their behalf. They are a superb think-tank and organisation. For those of you who haven’t really come across them before do take time this evening to speak to someone from the HJS, there’s a couple of them around here, and they can tell you a lot more about the organisation, and hopefully get you a bit more involved.
The theme this evening is incredibly timely, with the current and unfolding events in Libya, focusing on the issue of the responsibility to protect. And I guess for people like myself who became politically engaged and politically active at the beginning on the 1990s, the issue of and the question of international intervention to protect populations at risk of atrocity, of abuse, of death, has been one that’s kept coming back time and time again, from Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia, and so many other countries since then. The action in Libya by the international community has brought the issue of the responsibility to protect, one again, to the fore. It’s an opportunity for-quite a good opportunity-for the panel this evening to discuss this doctrine of responsibility to protect and see where it is going in terms of the international community and how we respond to crisis in the future.
So we’ve got a very distinguished panel this evening; on my immediate left is Jared Genser-who is based in Washington D.C. He’s managing director of Perseus Strategies, which is a law firm. He is also founder of Freedom Now, which is an independent NGO that works to protect the freedom of prisoners of conscience around the world and he’s recently co-edited a book about responsibility to protect, which I am sure he will take the opportunity to tell you about in his presentation.
On my immediate right, is Serena Sharma, who is from Wolfson College at Oxford University. She is co-investigator on the responsibility to prevent project and is also a special advisor at the United Nations Association. On her left, is Mark Vlasic, who is an adjunct Professor of law at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and partner at Ward & Ward legal firm there. He’s a US Army officer, he’s been attached to Capitol Hill and the Defence Attaché Office at the U.S. Embassy in The Hague and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal, so we’re are very grateful that he’s with us this evening.
On my far left is Thor Halvorssen, who is a human rights advocate and also a film producer/maker. He founded the Human Rights Foundation in the spring of 2005. He became first involved in advocating for human rights in 1989 when he was working on campaigns against apartheid in South Africa. So I will ask Jared to kick us off in just one moment, but before that I’m just going to give an apology because in about 10 minutes time, a piece of legislation I’ve got a little bit of responsibility for, will be starting in the House of Commons, so I probably have to rush out and which point, Julia, from the Henry Jackson Society, will seamlessly float in and take my place in the chair. Jared…
Well thanks very much, Mr. Crabb, and to the Henry Jackson Society for hosting us here this evening. It’s actually no accident that we have this group of people up here with me, as was mentioned I have a new book out, co-edited and a flyer was passed around for those who might be interested because actually on my right are two authors, contributors to the book, and on my left, Thor Halvorssen and the Human Rights Foundation who is a very gracious founder to this project. We couldn’t have predicted, of course, when we started we would be talking about this after successful intervention in Libya, but that is where we are and this is a very important topic. As you recall protestors demanded an end to Muammar Gaddafi’s regime began February 14 2011 in Tripoli and spread across the country and the Libyan government dispatched an army to crush the unrest. Gadaffi said he would rather die a martyr than step down and he called on his supporters to attack and, “cleanse Libya house by house until the protestors surrender.” The overall justification for the international intervention was the responsibility to protect-a still evolving doctrine that states that all countries have an obligation to prevent mass atrocities-but in the wake of the Libya action there is a fierce debate that continues among scholars, activists, and diplomats, about whether it’s use in this particular case will support or discourage the invitation of this approach for future victims of mass atrocities and one needs to look no further than the lacklustre intervention in Syria where more than 2,000 people have already been killed, since Bashar al-Assad’s government began its violent crackdown, to understand that Libyan intervention may produce some unintended consequences. UN Security General, Kofi Annan, challenged member states to answer the question that haunted his tenure at the UN and he said if humanitarian intervention is indeed an unacceptable assault on sovereignty, then how should be respond to Rwanda, to Srebrenica, to gross systematic violations of human rights that offend every precept of our common humanity. And out of this statement and a decade of prior work on these kinds of issues and work out of the Canadian commission on intervention and state sovereignty came the adoption of this doctrine itself. When 150 heads of state and government gathered at the UN World Summit in 2005, adopted a declaration that all states have an obligation to prevent mass atrocities-including genocide, war crimes, crimes again humanity and ethnic cleansing-and if states refuse to do so, or were complicit of course in those attacks, there was an obligation on the international community to intervene up to and including action by the Security Council.
There have been huge developments on this doctrine in the last 6 years, but it has yet to be fully implemented, though the need to prevent mass atrocities is greater than ever. We’ve seen, as Serena will talk about the doctrine as it was applied to Kenya and its post-election violence in 2007-2008, and it was invoked by the UN as a lesser justification for action in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kyrgyzstan, Guinea, and Cote d’Ivoire. But in those cases interventions were limited to non-military actions like diplomacy, human rights investigations, and targeted sanctions. But its applications in Libya were the first time it was evoked explicitly by the Security Council as a justification for coercive measures.
As you will recall the Security Council first adopted a resolution that imposed an arms embargo, financial sanctions, travel bans, referral to the Criminal Court, but in the subsequent 6 weeks, while the international community debated what more to do, Gadaffi told the residents of Benghazi that he would, “show no mercy”, and said, quote, “It’s over, we’re coming tonight, prepare yourselves for tonight, we will you in your closets.” And despite the unanimity and the international concern about events in Libya as they were unfolding there was a disagreement among the Security Council about how to proceed; the UK and France supported the no-fly zone, the US was ambivalent given the implications of deploying American resources and China and Russia, of course, opposed foreign military intervention. But the urgency created by Gadaffi’s threats, the presence of troops outside Benghazi and a public statement by the Arab League came together for the Security Council Resolution that authorised UN member states to take “all necessary measures to protect civilians”, and created a no-fly zone over Libyan airspace and urged the enforcement of an arms embargo and an asset freeze. And from the start there were questions about the way the Libyan intervention was raised; there was a question about, should the phrase “all necessary measures”, which in its ordinary usage in the Security Council authorises the use of force-how could that be interpreted-were efforts limited to protecting civilians actively threatened by Gadaffi’s forces or could it be interpreted to authorise regime change, which we learned pretty quickly was the only real way we were going to stop civilians being harmed in Libya. A short time later the no-fly zone was launched, fast forward to a number of months later after many ebbs and flows in the situation, but ultimately the intervention was effective; Gadaffi had to flee from Tripoli and the National Transitional Council (NTC) took over and of course we recently saw Gadaffi come to his demise in a drainpipe outside of his hometown.
The lessons coming out of this intervention has been two fold-and I want to talk about both, the sort of unique nature of the Libya intervention and more generally what one might take away from the Libyan intervention for future engagements to prevent mass atrocities.
In some respects Libya was different than anything that had happened before and or probably anything that is going to happen in the future. First, building support against Gadaffi was only possible because of a combination of compelling factors, including, fast moving and horrific actions targeting civilians, his venomous comments demonstrating his unequivocal intent, and the mass defections of his ambassadors, military and civil servants in Libya and around the world. And in fact, there was no other example in recent memory in which a dictator so quickly alienated his own government, his neighbours, and the rest of the world. Second, there was not only strong support in the Arab world, but even within the Arab communion as well, and the Security Council was confronted by the Libyan permanent representative to the UN, breaking down in tears, begging the body to save his own country.
And finally, unlike Tunisia and Egypt where people power had resulted in the overthrow of the respective dictators, there was real concern, no less, about the precedent Gadaffi was on the cusp of setting in Benghazi, which is that the swift and overwhelming force directed against civilian mass movements could put down a revolt if they were carried out fast enough to force all international intervention than in fact he could get away with his horrible mistreatment of his own people. So if Libya can’t rightly be described as a test case of RP2 that could be replicated, the question is what is its legacy? -And I think there are a range of other perspectives about that legacy –and then I will bring my remarks to a conclusion. One piece of the legacy, there is concern about the name in the civilian protection, R2P being justified for regime change and this has led to, as Gareth Evans -one of the authors of the doctrine, the former foreign minister of Australia-said, widespread perception not only among cynics, sceptics, and spoilers, that NATO in Libya stretched its responsibility to protect mandate to the absolute limit and maybe beyond it.
Second, there has been a global focus on the sharp end of R2P-“be deployed”-the doctrine is not only about military intervention, it is also about two other pillars: international assistance and capacity building and the states obligation to protect and in fact even within the timely decisive response pillar-the third pillar that was evoked here-timely decisive response doesn’t just jump to armed intervention, it includes a whole range of other less coercive measures, including sanctions and a range of other interventions.
Lastly, there is concern that the Libyan intervention might make future interventions more difficult and this concern came at a sharp relief last month when China and Russia cast an unusual double veto non-binding draft resolution on the situation in Syria. And after the vote the Russian permanent representative to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, noted: “The international community is alarmed by statements that compliance with the Security Council resolutions in Libya in the NATO interpretation is a model for future actions of NATO in implementing the responsibility to protect.” So in sum, it is quite clear that the Security Council NATO intervention in Libya will have a profound effect on the situation on that country and the evolution of R2P, but in my view, we can’t let criticism of that intervention dissuade us from continuing to press for the application of this doctrine.
Until recently mass atrocities directed at civilian populations were met with silence and inaction and the mere fact that the Security Council has not questioned the right of the international community to intervene, but rather debated the nature of the interventions size and scope, is a critically important milestone in the doctrine’s development. It should be viewed as unremarkable, in my view, that the interception of this operational doctrine in the real world will prove messy and imperfect in practice, but R2P was never intended to be a rigid, formulaic approach to preventing and responding to mass atrocities. On the contrary, it was designed for flexibility and to enable its application for a variety of distinct challenges; the use of force being a last resort. There of course valid reasons for concern, even acute disappointment, that the Security Council’s attempts to intervene in Syria were thwarted so far. China, Russia and others having seen how their approval of the intervention in Libya played out, maybe reluctant to invoke the responsibility to protect in terms of course of measures in the near future, and in the near term, the pendulum may swing back towards indifference, but if future failure to intervene in mass casualties or even as the casualties mount in Syria will only create pressure to swing the pendulum back towards action and it is only through this real world experience that the international community will learn how to act to achieve the important goal of atrocity prevention and calibrate its response.
While there remains a gap between unanimous stated commitment at the UN World Summit and the willingness of member states to act to prevent mass atrocities that gap is narrowing and indeed this past summer the General Assembly held its 3rd and formal debate on R2P and although this debate took place in the midst of the developing situation in Libya there remained a strong consensus among member states about the need to continue to implement R2P in its broadest sense. The global commitment to the prevention of mass atrocities remains, not only intact, but growing and has always been the case the challenge will be to transform this commitment into reality. Thank you.
Stephen Crabb MP
Jared, thank you very much and I’m going to invite now, Serena Sharma, to address us.
Thank you very much. Before I begin I want to thank The Henry Jackson Society for organising this really important discussion. I have actually just arrived from Kenya 2 days ago and I’m really glad to be here to participate in this panel, so thank you very much.
Before I start I want to provide a little bit of background about the crisis in Kenya for those of you who are not as familiar with it. The crisis in Kenya was triggered by a general election that was held on December 27th 2007. While the voting had been conducted by the peacefully allegations of vote rigging and disputes over the Presidential ballot, lead to widespread violence across the country. The nature of the violence was by no means homogenous, but varied according to region. Some elements were spontaneous, but there were also aspects of violence that were of a more organised nature, but the most-the fatalities-the greatest number of fatalities, in this occurred from the successive use of force by the police and state security apparatus. The international response to this crisis centred on the African Union (AU) sponsored mediation process, which was led by former Secretary General, Kofi Annan. After 41 days of negotiating, the members of the Party of National Unity and Orange Democratic Movement arrived at a power-sharing agreement, which for the most part brought the violence to a halt. The response to the…this case is quite significant for a number of reasons.
First of all, the crisis took place two years after the 2005 World Summit outcome document, in which member states unanimously agreed to the principle of the responsibility to protect, but it also coincided with the appointment of Ed Luck as the UN special advisor on R2P and was arguably the first time in which the principle was applied in practice, but what is really remarkable about this case, particularly if you view the controversies surrounding Libya and previous case that animated debates on R2P-such as Kosovo- is the fact that it was the result in the absence of the use of force, and because of that the case has been deemed a success story for R2P and an important milestone in its development.
What I want to do in the time that I have, is to offer a more critical lenses to the assessment of this case as an unqualified success story for R2P. In my view it is still a little bit too early to call this case a success story and what I would say is that the real test of the application of R2P -in the case of Kenya-is happening right now as the country tries to come to grips with some of the underlying causes of violence.
Now, of course, there are some real underlying causes of violence that have been indentified in this case, so I would like to focus on one and that is the effort to end impunity in Kenya. Apart from being the first test case for R2P; the Kenya case is the first time that ICC prosecutor has initiated an investigation of its own will in the absence of a previous referral.
So why is this important for those of us who are interested in R2P? Because the ICC and R2P are critically related in a number of important ways; first of all, both the ICC and R2P deal with the same crimes: genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity, all of which appear in the World Summit outcome document, are also listed in the Rome Statue. Next, where as R2P comes in to play where a state is manifestly failing to protect its populations from the four crimes I mentioned, similarly the principle of complimentary insures that the ICC only enters in to the picture when a state is unable or unwilling to prosecute. Finally, there is an important connection between the two to the extent that the ICC has been seen, and was mentioned in the SG report on implementing R2P, as an important tool of preventing atrocity crimes and this deterrent function of the ICC has also been acknowledged by Luis Moreno Ocampo, who has stated that, “ICC involvement in Kenya will prevent violence in the next elections.” The fact the ICC has now become involved in this case is very important; to date, nobody has been prosecuted for post-election violence, and the fact that the violence occurred 4 years ago. So the naming of 6 figures from very high place in the Kenya government, from both the PNU, and the ODM, has been very significant and has sent shockwaves throughout the country. But the case also brings to light critical challenges and I would like to name a few.
First of all is the problem of high expectations. While the majority of Kenyans are in favour of the ICC process, there has been a tendency to rely on a bit too much on the court for justice. The reality is that he ICC can only deal with a handful of cases; it doesn’t have the capacity to prosecute low to mid-level perpetrators of violence and for that a domestic or some sort of hybrid tribunal would be necessary. This raises the second challenge, and that is the impact of the ICC involvement in Kenya on domestic mechanisms for all to address. A proposed special tribunal in Kenya has been debated by the parliament on three separate occasions and rejected all three times. What has been fascinating to note in this case is how, some of the support, much of the support, for the special tribunal has been largely motivated by efforts to block the ICC in Kenya. Following from there, a third challenge relates to government cooperation in this case. When it did become clear that the criminal court would be involved; the government did offer a rhetorical support to the process, but then subsequently attempted to pull of the Rome Statue. When this failed, the government unsuccessfully attempted to push through a one year deferral. Given this deep seated resistance to prosecution there is no guarantees that the government will cooperate with the ICC should the cases be-the 6 cases-be confirmed. And to further complicate matters, two of the accused in the cases, are presidential candidates in the 2012 elections. Now the official line of the ICC has been that it will not prohibit the accused from running in the presidential elections since its main concern is justice, and not the political landscape of Kenya. It is difficult to deny that having this case proceeding amidst an election campaign; it will certainly change the political landscape. A final challenge is that ICC action in this particular case can actually trigger, rather than deter violence, and this has been a concern that is cited by many. The accused are drawn from two ethnic communities, given the history of Kenya of manipulating ethnicity for political purposes, this case or this worry should not be overdrawn. ICC involvement certainly has the potential to inflame tensions between these communities .In a new report by the Christian Science Monitor actually uncovered plans for renewed violence in order to prevent the extradition of one of the accused.
So to conclude, the challenges that the ICC is now facing in Kenya indicate that there really is too soon to declare this case a success story for R2P. As things develop, we might be forced to evaluate how this case has been traditionally assessed. Although the power-sharing agreement certainly did halt the violence, it can be considered a success for that, it also at the same time entrenched some of the power interests who bear the greatest responsibility for the violence. Not only has this made it difficult to tackle the culture of impunity in Kenya, there is no guarantee that it will prevent a renewal in violence in the next election. Thank you.
Thank you very much Serena, appreciate that. I will now hand it over to Mark Vlasic now.
Mark V. Vlasic
Thank you so much for having me. It is a delight to be here. I was talking to my parents about coming to Parliament and it is one of those things that-my family are originally from Slovenia, so first generation American-to come to the birthplace of American democracy, here in England…I thank you so much for having me.
As has been mentioned, I have spent most of my life in public service and I think the gross dysfunction of people who spend time in public service is we’re eternal optimists; otherwise we couldn’t bother working in public service because you have to believe you can change something to do so and so went I look at Libyan situation I look at it as a bit of an optimist and I see very much the glass half full and reason I do is because the last time we looked at, and kind of focused on, ethnic cleansing and possible mass atrocity back when it did happen, was right here in Europe, was in the Balkan, and was we know, in 1991the Republic of Slovenia and the Republic of Croatia declared independence and the Balkans fell into a civil war and it was a conflict that perpetrated all sides. The world largely stood back and watched it progress. In 1992, the Serbs started ethnic cleansing in Eastern Bosnia. In 1993 world decided to stand up and take action, so a year later and they decided to establish the safe areas for Srebrenica and Zepa and a few others. And so this was the first time the world said ok we recognise that people are being slaughtered, we need to stand up and do something, and we will establish areas so people will be, hopefully, safe from mass slaughter. But what happened in 1995? In 1995 the Serb forces surrounded Srebrenica, one of the safe areas, and in July 11 they invaded, over the course of the next 10 days Bosnian Serbs rounded up over 8,000 Muslim men and boys, stood them up in front of mass graves, had them blindfolded, their hands tied behind their backs, and they were slaughtered. Slaughtered, here in Europe, so recently ago.
Now I was, the reason I know a bit about this is because I was part of the world’s belated response to this genocide. I was one of the prosecutors-prosecution attorneys-working at the tribunal that helped find some sense of justice to those people whose lives were destroyed by the slaughter and the first case that I worked on was the case of General Karadzic and that was in 1999-2000, so years after the Srebrenica genocide was perpetrated, the world actually caught up and said ok we’ll fight for justice, we’ll try and find some way to right this terrible wrong that was perpetrated. And this quest for justice continues as you know General Mladic has recently been arrested and now we are waiting for his trial, so now over a decade after the slaughter we are still trying to pursue justice, to right the wrong, that we allowed to be perpetrated as the international community-in this case the Dutch were actually at Srebrenica at the time and witnessed the separation of men from women in Srebrenica. So what happened more recently? Well just this year, of course there is a mass revolt in Libya in February 17th. In February 26th, the UN Security Council decided to freeze assets and refer the matter to the ICC. In March 17th-this year-there’s a no-fly zone that’s been permitted and a few days later in March the committee, really NATO, but not just NATO, not the traditional allies: US, France, and of course Great Britain; but also non-traditional allies in these type of endeavours, the OEA and cutter also participated in this actions and what happens? Over sustained operations we managed to avert a mass slaughter, there was a distinct possibility. So when I look at this Libyan situation and put this in to perspective to what happened in Bosnia; the optimist in me says this is a tremendous success and just after 15 years we managed to get to a point where the world looks at these possibilities of mass slaughters and when in the past we said, we will never forget-we always forget-in this case we didn’t. We actually brought ourselves together and worked together to help to avert a disaster. So I think as we discussed this point and we think about it, to put this in context for the recent history to what has happened here in Europe and other mass atrocities. Thank you very much for having me.
Thank you very much Mark. I will turn it over to Thor Halvorssen now.
Thank you very much. It is a real pleasure to be here. I am rather honoured to be here. I did my GCSEs and my A-Levels here and I am originally from Venezuela; English is my second language and I had to leave this country with a very thick British accent and then do mass atrocity with the English language because every transaction at university would be introducing myself, followed by someone saying, “Are you from England?” Inevitably that would lead to a 10 minute conversation that had nothing to do about whatever I wanted to talk about, so I did mass atrocity, in so I speak like this with my colleagues although my family hates it when I speak like this. Incidentally I should point out, this event would not be possible without The Henry Jackson Society, but certainly would not possible without Jared. Jared is way too humble; what Jared did not tell you is that although, you know, speaks like a barrister and he talks about all of these terms that sometimes he says them so fast that you head spins. This is the lawyer for Liu Xiaobo, the current Nobel peace prize winner from last year who is sitting in a prison in China. This is the lawyer for aung san suu kyi. This is a man who has devoted himself with complete consistency to the protection of human rights across the world because it is about people, it’s not about Security Council’s and governments, what this ambassador said or what that ambassador said; ultimately it’s about people. And regarding this policy responsibility to protect it seems to me at first look that it’s a sloppy and inconsistent policy, one that is used politically against one government while, for instance in the case of Libya, a country full of oil, a country that has enemies in the west-traditional enemies such as Britain and the United States-yet it’s not used in other incidents. It’s a policy where if something happened today like Srebrenica it would be used very quickly and rushed through, because it is about people in Europe, but when it is happening in Africa-people don’t respond that quickly, perhaps it is also a racist policy, the point is it’s in the eyes of so many people: it’s messy, it’s sloppy, and it’s a complicated, and it’s a very problematic doctrine that is emerging. And, of course that is going to be the case that it’s going be extremely messy and countries are going to be political, they are going to seek their own national interests; the point is to get it where it is consistent, to get it where it is clear, to get it where no one can say “aha you’re protecting only your interests, or it’s about oil, or it’s about a personal vendetta between one President and another.”
Another way at looking at responsibility to protect, and to break it down, is to bring it down, is to bring in the remarkable German cleric- Dietrich Bonhoeffer-who conspired against Hitler and who gave his life and was tortured to death by the Nazis who, I’m going to paraphrase him, if you see man, a mad man driving a car and a group of innocent people; do you try and wrest control of the car from the mad man or do you wait and comfort the victims? Responsibility to protect ultimately poses this challenge to people. Where are you going to be? On what side of the human rights battle will you be? And this book that exists-and I urge you to buy it, I urge you to buy it-it’s ridiculously expensive $85, but I urge you to buy it, even if it is only because you are going to give it to your local library because this is a doctrine that is only now emerging and if you’re not a lawyer and I’m certainly not a lawyer-and this why I can say these things without getting in trouble-law is my blanket and as a new law is put in place and is interpreted in courts look at it or is discussed by public intellectuals or in the newspapers or by the public, it’s a blanket that is oh, it is missing these people, we need to extend it a little bit more. So think of the civil rights struggle in the United States in the 1950s/1960s/1970s, up until today. What, nowadays think of the struggle for equal protection of sexual minorities in the United States; again, the law is like a blanket and the question is what we need to stretch it over here to make it just right. It is always going to be messy, but totalitarianism is infinitely messier. Now we live in a world where according to Freedom House, if one looks at their recent reports-and they are an organisation that I definitely endorse-they determine 45% of the Countries in the world are fully democratic-what they refer to as free-24%, 47 countries, are not free or Authoritarian: North Korea, Burma, Chechnya, for instance-31% are partly free-competitive autocracies, for instance Malaysia or Venezuela. So by this calculation, 55% of the nations that sit at the United Nations really aren’t that interested in a responsibility to protect-in fact, quite the opposite, they often have a great urge to do harm to their own people, especially to those people who disagree with the government, who point out corruption in the government, who wish to stand for elections. So this is a challenge for the responsibility to protect and crafting the definition and the policies of this, has been nothing short of a miracle, it’s been nothing short of a miracle because the majority of those that sit at the UN aren’t really in favour of this. So how do we explain the success of this so far? The success of this has to do with free democracies, those who do have a concern-and here, I’m not talking about the voices of politicians because ultimately we incidentally live in a world of governments, we live in a world of people. We’re talking about the millions of people living in that 45% that who are not coerced into what they need to believe, those millions of people who can speak out and who can be outraged. The millions of people who read Elie Wiesel’s “Night”, or they read Gilbert Tuhabonye, “This Voice in my Heart”, or they watched “Hotel Rwanda”, or they saw “Schindler’s List”; the millions of people who were touched by this, the millions of people who watched on YouTube as Neda Agha-Soltan was murdered by the government of Iran, simply because she stood up against an election that was rigged, simply for protesting and those millions are the millions that saw this on Facebook, they saw this on YouTube. Whereas Srebrenica is unthinkable today-why is it unthinkable today? Because you would raise your voices, because the newspapers of the world, because the images would be everywhere, and people would say “NO THIS MUST STOP” and that is exactly what happened in Libya when people were hearing those voices on YouTube with cell phones, crying out “help us! Help us!” and people can instantly watch Moammar Gaddafi’s son, the one who came to England and poured tens of millions of pounds into universities here and tens of millions into public policy groups across the Americas, including men like Hernando De Soto who sat on the board of the so-called Gaddafi Foundation. Well, it is the free human beings that can hear those who are oppressed and say no. It is our responsibility to protect them and our governments follow what we say, not the other way around. So ultimately what are the challenges to the responsibility to protect? The challenges, the main challenges, of course, are two: putting this into the United Nations, making this an instrument that works inside the United Nations. In essence this is a doctrine which has been put together by brilliant scholars, many of them with different points of view, each of them pointing out a different problem, but all of them trying to make this work and if you want to see that discussion, I honestly and seriously urge you to buy the book because it is a cornucopia of different opinions about how this must be applied, but through it all comes, what comes out is that it needs to be a part of the new world that we want to create in which we can have transparent democracies, where people can be Facebook friends and trade and not have to have to be coerced by these governments to become slaves in their own borders against their own people.
The second major challenge beyond the United Nations, of course is China and Russia. You will never ever see the responsibility to protect implemented in a country that has needed it for more than 10 years Chechnya and it is a great honour tonight to have here present the prime minister of the government of Chechnya in-exile and you will never ever see that applied because Russia will never permit it. You will never see the weger people, 20 million people being crushed on a daily basis by the government of china or the people of Tibet being discussed with regards t responsibility to protect. So those are the major two dictatorships that are going to stand in the way due to their position on the Security Council. So with that I urge you get a copy of this book, know about this doctrine-when they started to tell me about this, when Jared said we’re going to do this book, offer it to University press, we need the money, responsibility to protect. I think the responsibility to protect it sounds like it’s about children and you know, custom cases and what not and when I started reading the level of people who were writing for it and then I started reading that they were not writing for lawyers; they were writing for public intellectuals, they were writing so that you can then take this out there and get those, get that moniker RTOP, responsibility to protect out there again and again and again and that is the way we can turn never forget into never again. So thank you very much.
Thank you very much for that. Thank you to all our speakers. I think we can all agree that this has been a very enlightening panel, so I’m just going to get the ball rolling in terms of discussion questions as I am actually spearheading a project on the responsibility to protect at The Henry Jackson Society, so this is music to my ears, everything I am hearing clearly. One of the consistent points I think everyone raised, which was really important to hear is that the R2P is by no means a utopian doctrine and it is not supposed to be. It is meant to be flexible, and it’s always invariably going to be messy in its application, so to that point I would like to throw up in to the panel: What do you think, what steps need to be taken on a practical level to advance the R2P? What could the US government or the UK government or any government do that would be most effective in bringing this forward, particularly post-Libya?
I’ll take a quick crack at it. Hmm, clearly I have a new PR person for my path, so I owe him a good pint I think after the session. So there is, as Serena Sharma mentioned, Ed Luck who is the UN special advisor on R2P to the Secretary General, who is doing the best he can to deliver in very difficult circumstances with limited resources to take R2P in operationalise it in the UN. One of the main things that needs to be done is to take this high level concept, frankly it is no more than a couple hundred words in this UN World Summit outcome document from 2005, and to actually lay out what are the standards of how you think of implementing this thing, you know when you look at prevention what are the various aspects of prevention in much more detail and you think about response and particularly, I mean we know obviously what a course of response would look like-in terms of military intervention-but non-military intervention responses; what are the range of options and what is on the menu blueprint for how one thinks about intervention. Obviously everything has to be adopted to the specific circumstances, but from my perspective the most important thing that we need to do and we’re still only part of the way there in my view-based on what has happened in the past 6 years-is to be able to get some consensus emerging about the way about one thinks about intervening in these kinds of situations and how you think about making this all happen.
Interesting. Another thing that came up consistently was Russia and China as the main stumbling blocks in trying to push the R2P forward. Another Country that I am thinking of that has a history of being legally uncomfortable with the R2P, although for different reasons, is Israel and I’m just wondering if any of you would like to comment on the legal complexities of this and how these countries that do have concerns about it, maybe their concerns can be assuaged so we can move forward more consistently.
What I think is good for the goose is good for the gem. If there is a reason to enter into a situation where responsibility to protect needs to applied in the Palestinian territories, I think that’s absolutely a no-brainer. Of course, their concern, I’m sure is the fact because there is usually a double standard when it comes to the reporting of the human rights atrocities in the Middle East and Syria will get barely a scant mention until the last year, whereas Israel will have 600 pages written about it. No doubt they are uncomfortable when the United Nations does their human rights review and there are, and I am paraphrasing-I may not get this exactly right-but maybe one resolution on Burma, one on North Korea, zero on any other country in the Middle East except seven on Israel; that tends to make them a little uncomfortable, and that is totally, totally understandable. But if there are violations of human rights that need to be addressed or there is a threat to the immediate population, it is a no-brainer. No Country is, is devoid of politicians who may sometimes carry out horrendous policies, history has proven that over and over again. Now with regard to the initial question as to how to get this out there, I’m not a real fan of governments in general; governments are very good at killing people, beyond that they are not really good at pretty much anything else. So my view is that civil societies, the more civil societies do the better it is in general for humanity. So my view is that the best thing free governments can do is public diplomacy, is educate as much as they can, populations of other countries, educate them to the point-you know-Gene Sharp, the father of the movement of the peaceful resistance movement against totalitarianism, the father of effective action talks about, you know, putting together placards in English, when you are actually protesting against dictatorship. These placards should say, you have a responsibility to protect get with it, something the equivalent of that. How many of you for instance, if I can ask real quick, have read about the potential fatherhood of Justin Bieber, of the child out of wedlock? May I see a show of hands? Ok. How many of you read about Hilary Swank in Chechnya to celebrate Ramzan Kadyrov’s birthday. Ok. Prior to this event, how many of you knew about the responsibility to protect? Well that is very impressive, very impressive, in the United States it would be one person at the back and would be one of the organisers. My point is, we need to put this in to the mainstream as much as humanly possible, so this sort of event is a first, but in terms of this and this book is a first. I’m not going to plug it-it’s the last time I plug the book.
Just quickly before I go to the main floor, can I just put it to Serena and Mark if you have any particular observations on how we can best advance this on the level of international law and gaining some sort of consensus on the R2P and moving it forward?
I would like to respond to the first question about what steps can be done to really promote R2P. I really think there has been a bit of a tendency to-an inclination- to disavow the use of force and an emphasis on the preventive side of R2P which is a good thing because I don’t think prevention is really, it was deemed the most important part of R2P, but it wasn’t really treated extensively in the 2001 ICISS Report, so I think that emphasis, that shift is really important, but it almost came at the expense, I would argue, at some of the considerations that first led to R2P, which is the questions over reactions and use of force and I think they are a bit caught off-guard in the case of Libya because the discussions hadn’t been emphasising that and there are a lot of issues around so-called pillar 3 that I think need to be fleshed out further.
I’ve been interviewing Ed Luck on and off and he-he’s very patient-and he mentioned that the next General Assembly session that they are going to be having on R2P will actually look at pillar 3 and tools of pillar 3 and I think an important aim of that should be to try and find the middle ground between prevention and reaction because I think there is a space in between and Kenya might be a good example of that, where you can have preventive action, but it is still being in the category of response. There are some gray areas I think between the two, not obviously clear-cut boundaries. So I really look forward to that debate and I think we need to try and de-mythisise the pillar 3 and start fleshing out what some of those preventive tools are, which fall between the two categories and I think that would be really helpful for the broader development of R2P.
Mark V. Vlasic
I think for me my perspective is just adding human elements of how it proceeds. If you look at the States, our politicians and members of congress are obviously very concerned about what the public thinks, and frankly the public is more concerned with Justin Bieber and how his personal life is proceeding, that means it is something they don’t focus their time on because frankly they have very full agendas, very full portfolios, but if the public at large, particularly those in the constituencies, decide that genocide is something that they are not in favour of and want to write to their members of congress and to have meetings with their staff and really encourage them to do something, that sends a signal and I think in many countries in the world, no member of congress-or parliament- is going to lose their seat if they decide to not protest some mass genocide going on somewhere in the world. So I think to the extent their constituencies decide to speak up and its interest groups and those that have strong voices for human rights step up and raise the issue that galvanises and encourages, instils some sense of courage to those public servants who decide to stick their necks out to protect people far away, people they have never met before. What I think is interesting about the Libya situation is you have a case where, at least in the United States, those people who cut their teeth in Bosnia because it was such a major event in the Clinton Administration, actually incredibly are back in government again, so those folks that saw what happened in Bosnia and saw how basically the atrocity rolled in slow motion and could see things happening, but felt like they couldn’t do enough to stop it-at least in the time to stop it-thought that in this situation, wow, we have something like this repeating itself again and the last time I sat at this desk, the last time I saw at this office-The White House, The State Department, The Pentagon, somewhere else-I witnessed something terrible happening and have always regretted that we didn’t do more. And in the case of Libya, we had an opportunity where people who had learned from this lessons stuck forth and said we need to be more pro-active about this and so I think what is interesting about this experience is that-and again my perspective is that you can see it as a success because the massacre didn’t occur-I think success builds upon success, so it means the next time there is an opportunity for the world to really collectively act, people will feel more empowered to do so. Of course, we could debate the fact that there are other atrocities going on, other mass slaughters going on and other things where the world can step up. In many cases, the issues of personalities and where do personalities, and national stratosphere level of governments, where people decide to work together to prevent something and hopefully this is something that will happen more often in the future. Clearly our record is not great in the past and hopefully our record will be better.
Ok, well I will just open it up to the floor now. If you could keep your questions brief, and also say your name and what organisation you might be from that would be great. Thank you and I’m going to take questions in groups of threes as we are running out of time.
I will take a crack at it. I think that the after response, in my view, is mixed and so the record will be both positive, in the sense that you described, but also negative. It is positive in the sense that ultimately the AU came out in support of the no-fly zone and in support of and the African commission reports to intervene as you describe in equal measures, so that was an important independent endorser along with the Arab League support for taking action that made it possible to overcome the objections of China and Russia that related, you know, ordinarily these kind of circumstances related to the neighbours not supporting action, but in this case, every neighbour supported action. So in that sense a good record. Unfortunately both the Arab League and the AU had swift buyer’s remorse after having supported the NATO intervention and what you saw is the Arab League kind of backing off, we you know, Qatar and UAE did some planes, but it took them a little too long I think-it was a handful of planes-so you know, and the AU to this day had been unable to fully recognise the National Transitional Council, as an institution, because a number of its members are still are not recognising the National Transitional Council. So there remain divisions within Africa and in the AU, that are, I think unremarkable in the sense of if you look at what the composition is of the AU and the range of non-democratic countries that are in Africa in addition to those that are democratic. But I think that the legacy of the Africa system is going to be mixed, I think in a lot of respects-the last thing I would just like to note- is that, you know, it was in fact in some respects the legacy of the African system failing prior OAU-The Organisation of African Unity-failing in Rwanda that precipitated the transition to the African Union and what I think unfortunately in reaction to Libya is mixed and will show that there’s more that needs to come out of Africa in future scenarios.
Mark V. Vlasic
If I could just add to that I think what was encouraging, one of the concerns I have had with Africa- if you look at what happened after the UN decided to place sanctions and also asset freeze on Gadaffi and his assets for his associates, where some countries are very forthcoming and very eager to freeze assets; other countries were very reluctant to do so. In fact, other countries decided to keep sincerely drag their feet and cause sincere concern in the Security Council that tried to piece together…when they decided that the actual assets had to be freeze, decided not to do so. And I think that is a huge concern because I think if you want to get into the personality issues, I think while some folks were having their own concerns with Colonel Gadaffi-which is why it proceeded like it did-other folks had strong relationships with Mr Gadaffi and therefore were very reluctant to take measures, freeze his assets, and will likely to continue to do be reluctant to try and return the frozen assets to the new Transitional Council and the new Libyan government, so I would like to keep an eye on this to see how those countries in Africa who maintain close relationships with Gadaffi and half the time were the beneficiary of his gifts, will manage to cooperative to the new Libyan government and cooperative with the UN Security Council resolutions regarding the freezing of assets.
I remember I once gave-I was once attending a speech- at NY Union University and the speaker was the Venezuelan ambassador for Hugo Chavez and I asked him a question he really did not like, and he asked me, “What’s your name? And you are from Venezuela?”And he wrote down everything and, again, the mentality that he had, regarding I’m going to go after your people….what’s your name sir? Actually, you are right, I didn’t mention the word veto, but when I mentioned Russia and China, that’s exactly what I meant, when I said Russia and China. And you are not an optimist regards to whether this is going to go anywhere and you think it was a coincidence with regard to Libya and you may be right about that. The current structure we have right now, at least until we can think of a better one, is the United Nations and by no means is the United Nations should be the only alternative we have going forward; after all it did replace the League of Nations which was a failure, so maybe we can replace failure with something that will hopefully not be a failure, but I’m quite optimistic, if we can get it going under this doctrine, if we can get this doctrine going and it can actually be put to a circumstance where the think-tankers tend to figure out a way around Russia and China, at least if it enters into the mainstream and everyone from the world realises, look this needs to happen and we need to stop this: Russia, China, you are either going to jump onboard or something else is going to take place. I would like to get to that point, but I certainly don’t think we should give up.
I will just add briefly, you are right of course the word obligation doesn’t appear, the word responsibility appears and you’re also right of course that World Summit outcome document and those paragraphs are cortical in nature and there is no obligation in a formal legal sense for anybody to do anything in any General Assembly Resolution including that one, but what is remarkable in my view is that despite that the Security Council in Resolution 1674 adopted language in their resolution on civilians and armed conflict to embrace the responsibility to protect at the Security Council, again, in a non-binding resolution, but then on the case of Libya and in fact Darfur where it has come up short, cited too this non-binding doctrine as part of the justification for why it decided to act. And so I think that what it demonstrates that there is a lot of normative power in the use of language and in the consensus that is emerging, I think, around at a minimum, a desire to agree that mass atrocities should be prevented.
Crimes against humanity were not illegal 100 years ago. Correct? So now they are. We are extending this blanket, so let’s stretch it out as much as possible and make it very thick and woolly.
And before I take some new questions; the question about, does the R2P extend to a responsibility to protect the oppressors-I’m thinking particularly of Mr Gaddafi, who has just met a not very nice end. Should that be a part of it?
I want to come in on the second question, before I move to the last question; is that ok?
To the sceptic-we will call you the sceptic of R2p-on the point of Libya, I think that one of the things that the debate really showed was the centrality of the UN Security Council in authorising the use of force and part of this I think was due to the legacy of Iraq-nobody wanted a repeat of that situation-but you could also look at this part of a shift in the debate over R2P. If you compare the ICISS Report in 2001 to the World Summit outcome document in 2005, there was a noticeable shift in the centrality given to the Security Council in the subsequent version; among other things, for crimes being delineated, natural disasters being left out. This, this, really sparked a debate over whether the latter version in 2005 amounted to, as some critics called, R2P-light. And I agree with you that there is a much more circumscribed rule for the Security Council in the latter version and we can debate which version was better for the development of R2P, but I think it comes down to the fact that it is harder to sell politically without putting the Security Council into that role, so it is always a question of gaining acceptance and balancing this with gaining consensus for the doctrine and trying to have a more nuanced version of R2P, so this is-you’ve highlighted one of the biggest challenges, I think, for its development and you can see that in the case of Libya.
I would note that the, although, all this-I will speak for myself-I’m a supporter of R2P. Intentionally, the book-and it is not about advertising the book-but directly addresses the criticism of the doctrine; there is a whole chapter on challenges and controversies, and a lot of the authors, particularly the chapter on the Asian perspective, the failures in Darfur, are directly addressing the exact kind of concerns you are talking about: the problems with the veto, and all these kinds of issues, and these absolutely have to be on the table, discussed directly-I mean I think Security Council reform is necessary. But the old saying, perfection shouldn’t be the enemy of the good. I think in my case, I would say, should apply to this doctrine and frankly all other preventive doctrines, we should seek to achieve unanimity and universal application, but we shouldn’t wait until that is possible to try to do something.
And any thoughts on whether it should be extended to protecting the perpetrators?
Well what happened in the case of Muammar Gadaffi is a crime and it is in violation of international law, unquestionably. Of course, the excuse that the government first gave-in terms of, well no he died of his wounds and he died of his wounds, in the, in the ambulance that death would have been within the definition of international law and conflict and it would have been an acceptable death, but in as much as in the evidence to come out and plus the confession by the guy who said, “I executed him”. Without a question, that is a violation of international law and so he should be prosecuted.
So going backwards again; would anyone like to answer the first question about whether the responsibility to protect does already, or should extend to include regimes that are developing weapons of mass destruction?
Actually, following that though, and I mean this is more-I throw it to you-there is a functional difference between Saddam Hussein saying, “I’m going to build weapons of mass destruction to use them outside this place” and “I’m going to kill 400,000 Kurds. Let’s go gas all of them.” The latter meets your test of R2P, the former doesn’t necessarily, so really it’s a, this is where it gets-I wouldn’t say mathematical- but where it has to meet certain tests. I don’t think, unless the ruler is attending to use these weapons against his own people, and nuke his own people: would it be right in saying that R2P doesn’t apply in those cases?
Look, R2P wasn’t designed to cover the case that you’re describing; it wasn’t really theoretically discussed in a serious way in how it has developed. The only example that pops to mind of course is Iran and Israel where there have clearly public statements made, suggesting wiping Israel off the map, but I think that as an-I mean R2P is not about pre-emptive attack on Iran in order to prevent a threat and ultimately, you know, we’re talking about preventing mass atrocities here and so you have to tread very lightly in a situation like this, particularly post-Iraq. And I would view, that you know, this much more likely to be dealt with not with-I mean responsibility to protect brings together a lot of already existing parts of law and expands how you interpret it-right, so it brings together the Genocide Convention, the Rome Statute, you know the Geneva Conventions, the laws of war etc. So there are a lot of other frameworks to deal with, prevention of the developments of WMDs, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and otherwise, and I think it is probably much more important to deal with a situation of the kind you are describing, through other existing mechanisms to deal with the prevention of the development of nuclear weapons or WMDs, chemical and biological weapons convention etc. Those are probably the appropriate frameworks to deal with those kinds of issues, not R2P because that was just not how it was envisioned.
And the next question was: would the Security Council reform be a good step forward in advancing the R2P?
I don’t, I think I would like to link it back to the first question from the first gentleman who brought up Russia and China, on much less, less focus on Security Council and more focused on what really are we going to do if Russia does something in Chechnya or if China does something in Tibet is anyone really going to intervene because of the cost, the cost is more than is possible-or the words the put forward. Well, hmm, what we have to ask ourselves id do we make a calculation and go well, Hitler’s going to kill all the Jews, he’s already sending them into camps, how long do we wait? Do we wait till it is about Europe? Do we allow this to happen? I am not trying to re-write history here, but we have to ask ourselves, what is the point? Are we going to-if R2P is going to exist-then of course it has to apply in the case of Russia in Chechnya or China in Tibet. If there are mass atrocities being planned, carried out and so on and so forth, we have to get serious or we have to agree that this is political, that this is not always going to work, that we will do our best, but it is going to be messy and it is going to take years, and we will be inconsistent, and that’s ultimately what nations tend to do. If, nations not serious about tyranny, not a single tyranny would last if it was not being helped by western nations, by free nations; Russia would not last if it did not have Europe saying let’s do business, China would not be where it is today if it had not had the rest of the free world saying, we’re ok, we can ignore this stuff, and I am sorry if I come across as binary on this, but you’re either free or you’re un-free.
And just for the first gentleman’s question, would either of you like to answer it-at what point to you make a decision that it is time to intervene? I think he was referring to a military intervention, um, how do you make that decision, according to the kind of standards set out by the R2P concept?
Although it really isn’t discussed so much anymore, the original ICISS Report did contain threshold criteria for deciding when to intervene, on drawing on just war criteria, and of course this isn’t discussed anymore, but perhaps it should be, as it might be something we should think about revisiting in future debates over R2P. But I think it is going to be very difficult to get a-particularly the Security Council member states to abide by some of these principles because it will restrict their ability to be flexible and they opted after 2005 to look at these cases on a case by case basis and to maintain flexibility in dealing with these situations. So I think it is difficult, but this was part of the original debate and again something that we might want to revisit
Does anyone else have any comments that they would like to make before we wrap up?
Mark V. Vlasic
If I could just add one thing, to add to the-again the optimistic positive note-it, and again, I look at this through the lens of international justice-really before Nuremburg there is no one who stood trial for mass crimes, atrocities, and for war crimes, and after Nuremberg you certainly had a world where people-the international community- decided to focus on these things-the tribunal in the Former Yugoslavia and also in Rwanda. But even when those were set up, when Thor, Jared, and I were in university-us being the oldest guys in the panel-we only knew a world, where if you were an internal dictator and you perpetrated terrible atrocities against your people, you either died in office, you were overthrown in a coup or you fled into exile and lived happy ever after in a nice little building. And after the arrest of Milosevic, that was the first time for a state to be brought down and to actually see international justice and Saddam Hussein, Charles Taylor, among others, and in the short time we’ve been adults after we finished university, you see, actually things change. And I think what is neat about international law and the development in this area is the fact that you’ve seen progress in a very short period of time. And in the past it took hundreds of years to galvanise international community and by the different governments to actually pursue some sort of justice and now we are seeing it happen much more quickly than it did in the past, so as we look forward we have some cause to be optimist, since folks like you are interested in this, and folks like you are going to encourage members of congress, members of parliament, and your government to take action and the fact that hopefully we’ll see less and less injustice in the world.
Thank you so much to all our speakers. This has been a fascinating conversation; we have really appreciated having them. Thank you.