Alright… so Jane says (paraphrasing 🙂 ) “Who cares who it was! The UN is bloody infuriating”
You’re right… and I think this guy, Prime Minister Paul Martin agrees with you.
Though he can’t use the same language in the world of Diplomacy (wish he could).
At the UN General Assembly, Paul Martin introduced his idea to start reforming how the UN deals with situations like Rwanda, Darfur, and Bosnia. He calls it the “Responsibility to Protect”.
Read on to here more… and we’ll see what we think of it.
Prime Minister Martin is flogging this idea on behalf of Canada. A Commission was set up in 2001, after the September 11 attacks, to deal with one of the major problems with the UN. That is, it’s inability to act quickly in the face of obvious, and ongoing, humanitarian disasters.
A Report was created with recommendations, but, in true UN style… nothing has come of it. Paul Martin is attempting to raise the profile of this report, and rally support.
It was the focus of his address to the UN this year, and he brought up again at the APEC Summit last weekend.
This report is about the so-called “right of humanitarian intervention”: the question of when, if ever, it is appropriate for states to take coercive – and in particular military – action, against another state for the purpose of protecting people at risk in that other state. At least until the horrifying events of 11 September 2001 brought to center stage the international response to terrorism, the issue of intervention for human protection purposes has been seen as one of the most controversial and difficult of all international relations questions. With the end of the Cold War, it became a live issue as never before. Many calls for intervention have been made over the last decade – some of them answered and some of them ignored. But there continues to be disagreement as to whether, if there is a right of intervention, how and when it should be exercised, and under whose authority.
The report which we now present has been unanimously agreed by the twelve Commissioners. Its central theme, reflected in the title, is “The Responsibility to Protect”, the idea that sovereign states have a responsibility to protect their own citizens from avoidable catastrophe – from mass murder and rape, from starvation – but that when they are unwilling or unable to do so, that responsibility must be borne by the broader community of states. The nature and dimensions of that responsibility are argued out, as are all the questions that must be answered about who should exercise it, under whose authority, and when, where and how. We hope very much that the report will break new ground in a way that helps generate a new international consensus on these issues. It is desperately needed.
Here are the Basic Principles:
- State sovereignty implies responsibility, and the primary responsibility for the protection of its people lies with the state itself.
- Where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect.
The Biggest issue in Iraq, and I gather in Kosovo as well, was the VETO of the 5 permanent members. This is where this document really starts to get interesting, and break new ground.
# The Permanent Five members of the Security Council should agree not to apply their veto power, in matters where their vital state interests are not involved, to obstruct the passage of resolutions authorizing military intervention for human protection purposes for which there is otherwise majority support.
# If the Security Council rejects a proposal or fails to deal with it in a reasonable time, alternative options are:
- consideration of the matter by the General Assembly in Emergency Special Session under the “Uniting for Peace” procedure; and
- action within area of jurisdiction by regional or sub-regional organizations under Chapter VIII of the Charter, subject to their seeking subsequent authorization from the Security Council.
So that is what Paul Martin is trying to garner support for. I ask you to read through the report, it’s not very big. And share what you think.
Personally, I don’t think it goes far enough… but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Especially on the matter of waving the VETO of the permanent members in times of humanitarian crisis since that, invariably, is what stops the Security Council from ever doing anything.
I have my doubts on whether Mr Martin will be succesful in his campaign… and it doesn’t help that the media seems completely ignorant of the initiative and it’s possible effect on the operation of the UN.
But.. all we can do is talk anyway right? Maybe our little effort will start a wider discussion that might actually go somewhere.
UPDATE: Oops.. I copy/pasted the wrong link. 🙂