R2P: An Obstacle to Peace or Roadmap to Regionalism?

April 8, 2008

Foreign Voices has two interesting, opposing voices on R2P. Thelma Ekiyor from the West Africa Civil Society Institute argues that R2P has potential for success if regional organizations are strengthened, while Professor Mary Ellen O’Connell from the University of Notre Dame sees R2P as inadvertently leading to an increased dependency on military solutions.

More R2P food for thought….

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One Response to “R2P: An Obstacle to Peace or Roadmap to Regionalism?”

  1. Vivi Says:

    Human rights and human security, as popular topics nowadays, also face challenges from thoughts like national sovereignty and those ambiguous definition. After reading the two articles, two “big” questions strike me —

    (1)In what cases do the international society take up the responsibility?

    The normative ambiguity of what circumstance to “intervene” has long been criticized. I agree on the idea that Thelma Ekiyor puts an emphasis on “responsibility to prevent” rather than “responsibility to react” and regards the 1st pillar of prevention as of most importance.

    But it is so hard to put it into reality. In the Zimbabwe issue, though Robert Mugabe was blamed for the terrible domestic situation and the bad human rights record, he is keeping in charge for 28 years and on. In 2008 election of Zimbabwe, the international reaction towards the suspected “controlled election” was also kept off by the “sovereignty” card. They can do little and may want to do little. On the other side, in the Darfur case, the International society was eager to do something and UN was severely accused of its “non-reaction”. But the weak willingness of UN Security Council (frequently appeared as disagreement among US, UK, France vs. China, Russia) and their own national considerations led to a UN more a talkshop than a workshop.

    Throughout Rwanda, Srebrenica, till Darfur, the international society was always a step late to “prevent”. Or put it in a more cruel interpretation, it was always until the atrocities were totally exposed before the whole world would the international society be anxious and have consensus to do something.

    (2)In what ways do international society respond towards the invasion of humanity?

    While it is hard to make the definition and norms clear in every cases, could we find some more humane and effective means to protect universal humanity other than war? Mary Ellen O’Connell criticizes the possible “new militarism” caused by the R2P principle. And “use war to cease war” is really an unjust and inhumane way justified by the “human security” concern. As Prof. O’Connell mentioned in her article, “inherent in the idea of humanitarian intervention is the contradiction that it is acceptable to kill and injure some, even wholly innocent people, to preserve human rights of others.” Whilst Thelma Ekiyor also suggests that “economic sanction, diplomatic isolation, and prosecution” might work more humanely than military.

    After reading, I am more pro-Regionalism suggested by Thelma Ekiyor. It is sad that the worries on “the Sovereignty intervention to the global south by the global north” or “the abuse of norms or ideas like ‘war on terror'” pop up more and more often. So could we appeal to the “regional mould” where the continental or regional interference work as the main actor while the international society stay behind for necessary help? Starting from such ideas like regional building and regional ties, peaceful conversations might be easier. And there might be less suspicious readings like abuse of the right to intervene. To put the whole issue in a smaller scope of region rather than international, may help human security ideas go more smoothly and effectively.


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