Re-Branding Responsibility to Protect, Gareth Evans
Says Somalia's Not Covered
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
September 17 -- If Somalia, where
civilians are killed every day in a cross fire between Ethiopian
Islamic insurgents, does not trigger the so-called Responsibility to
what good is R2P? Australia's former
foreign minister Gareth Evans was asked this question on September 17,
pitched his R2P book to a handful of reporters including Inner City
"It's not a classic situation," Evans said of Somalia.
the capacity of deteriorating into
mass atrocity crimes."
many deaths does it take? Evan listed the now-stemmed violence in Kenya
"classic R2P;" a photograph from Kenya is on the jacket of his book and
he noted that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon cited R2P during the Kenya
death toll by violence in Somalia is higher, and there is no end in
sight. When Inner City Press pursued the issue, Evans turned to a
staffer of the International Crisis Group, who gently disagreed with
saying that Somalia is a classic case, in that the government is not
unwilling but also unable to protect the people of the country. She
acknowledged that war crimes are being committed, including by the
Ethiopian troops. Somalia would be R2P, she said, except no
wants to go.
this same point about Darfur, noting that while none of the 22 needed
helicopters has been given, there are some 11,872 suitable helicopters
available around the world. Still, Evans argued against invoking R2P in
saying that it failed the "balance of consequences" test, in that
intervention would put at risk the 2.5 million internally displaced
the North-South Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
Gareth Evans and Ban Ki-moon, R2P in Somalia
rather posited Burundi
as a victory for R2P, a concept which he said needs to
be "re-branded." The first conceptual switch, he said, was from the
French-inspired idea of the right to intervene to R2P, which is at
phrased from the point of view of the victims. Still, it was pointed
out to him
that R2P is often called just a reinterpretation of the white man's
Evans countered that on a recent trip to New Delhi and Islamabad, he
"senior levels" of the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministries open to
R2P, more so that the "multilaterals here" at the UN, who he said are
suffering from "buyer's remorse" after agreeing in 2005 to R2P.
Press asked Evans if he thinks China and Russia will invoke the concept
time soon. After pointing out Chinese representation on the High Level
that formalized the idea, Evans criticized Russia's citing to R2P for
actions in South
Ossetia. "To defend your own nationals is not R2P,"
he said, "it's national self-defense, under Article 51 of the UN
charter." He said that Russia "misused"
concept of R2P, while in his view France and Bernard Kouchner only "put
risk the consensus" by linking R2P to General Than Shwe's blockage of
foreign aid to Myanmar after cyclone Nargis.
that he spoke to "a Burmese on the ground" who said that the warships
coast in the cyclone's aftermath "did concentrate the
generals' minds." This is not dissimilar to arguing that the
Criminal Court prosecutor's request for an arrest warrant against
president Al Bashir is making him act better. It's a circular argument.
accused keeps acting badly, it proves the accusation. If
the accused starts acting better, then the
accusation helped. The accusation, then, can never be disproved. White
"The Responsibility to
Protect: Ending Mass
Atrocity Crimes Once and For All," by Gareth Evans, Brookings
Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-8157-2504-6
Watch this site, and this (UN) debate.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017
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earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
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