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Responsibilty to protect (R2P) – Do We Really Need This?

When in 1994 a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred by Hutu militia in Rwanda; when in mid 1970s two million Cambodians were eliminated from the face of the earth by the Pol Pot regime; the world was deafeningly silent and did nothing then and after.

Rwanda lost 20% of its population within a span of 100 days and Cambodia lost 21% of its people during 4 years of Khmer rule.

In 2005 a World Summit was called to commit nations to the concept of Responsibility to Protect.

There the Heads of the State and government agreed to the following:

That each individual state has the primary responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. And it is also a responsibility for prevention of these crimes.

That the international community should encourage or assist states to exercise this responsibility.

The international community has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means to help protect populations threatened by these crimes. When a state manifestly fails in its protection responsibilities, and peaceful means are inadequate, the international community must take stronger measures, including collective use of force authorized by the Security Council under Chapter VII.

The smaller countries fear that this can be misused to interfere and intervene in their internal affair by the aggressive neighbouring big countries.

Looking at the present scenario, where many nations have tacitly involved in intrastate conflicts that are causing gross human rights violations, it seems that the R2P must be used as an instrument to protect the civilians there.

As the responsible nations deny legal and ethical assistance to such helpless people, we might witness many more genocides and ethnic cleansing in the near future.

It’s ironic that the African Union which was the first such organization to accept the R2P principle was also the first to defend Omar Al Bashir when the International criminal Court convicted him of war crimes in Darfur.

Mcnamara might be dead but history will never forgive him for the millions of murder he committed on behalf of his nation in Vietnam. It was nothing less than the holocaust.

Yet nations could only do the lip service.

Nations like US, Israel, Sudan, China, Myanmar, and Zimbabwe still are involved in one or the other type of gross human rights violations in their or other territories.

Russia in the name of R2P successfully trounced Georgia and freed Abhkazia and North Ossetia; China using its veto power thwarted an attempt by the UN to intervene in Myanmar when the Junta unleashed reign of terror on peaceful monks and then when it failed to allow humanitarian aid to enter the country aftermath of Cyclone Nargis’ devastating effect on its people.

The world cannot be flat unless nations take moral responsibility to stop human right abuses against humans elsewhere outside their own countries. As a community the world has a compulsion to act and protect fellow humans.

Globalization will be incomplete unless nations first realize that as human beings we are all interconnected and it’s in our interest to be united as one world and one race.