The Last Rites for Humanitarian Intervention

Darfur, Sri Lanka and R2P

In: Global Responsibility to Protect
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  • 1 University of London

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The politics of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) are interwoven with the ghosts of Rwanda and Srebrenica. Although R2P can clearly be seen as an attempt to legitimate intervening in sovereign states to protect human rights, the post-2001 emphasis of advocates on intervention actually reduced the chances of truly humanitarian action by complicating the calculations of sovereigns faced with unpredictable political risks. As the military dimension to R2P wanes, so the possibility of intervention on a truly humanitarian basis might increase. And thus, the real achievement of the last two decades, embedding the idea of civilian protection as an expectation, comes into view. It is harder than it was to publicly murder your own citizens with impunity. R2P has been a success, we might say, to the extent that it has helped establish the civilian protection principle. But the historical record suggests this emerging norm predates R2P. We can even interpret R2P as a decade-long interlude, a diversion, from the underlying trend toward establishing a post-Cold War norm of preventing atrocities against civilians. What we must not expect, in Syria as in Sri Lanka, is armed intervention in an internal conflict when the United States, China and Russia have vital and conflicting interests at stake.

  • 5

    Alex J Bellamy, ‘Responsibility to Protect or Trojan Horse? The Crisis in Darfur and Humanitarian Intervention after Iraq,’ Ethics and International Affairs, 19/2 (2005), pp. 38–39. Also, MacFarlane, Thielking and Weiss, ‘The Responsibility to Protect’, pp. 983–985.

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  • 9

    Hugh Breakey, ‘The Responsibility to Protect and the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts: Review and Analysis,’ Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law, Griffith University, May, 2011, available at: http://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/333844/Responsibility-to-Protect-and-the-Protection-of-Civilians-in-Armed-Conflict-Review-and-Analysis.pdf

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  • 11

    Alex J Bellamy, ‘The Responsibility to Protect and the Problem of Military Intervention,’ International Affairs, 84/4 (2008), p. 617. Also Francis M. Deng et al, Sovereignty as Responsibility: Conflict Management in Africa (Washington DC: Brookings, 1996).

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  • 12

     See for example Hugo Slim, ‘Dithering Over Darfur? A Preliminary Review of the International Response,’ International Affairs, 80/5 (2004), pp. 820–1. The former Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Edward C Luck, argues however that the endorsement of R2P in 2005 would have been unthinkable even as recently as 2000; see ‘The Responsibility to Protect: Growing Pains or Early Promise,’ Ethics and International Affairs, 24/4, (2012).

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  • 15

    Adam Roberts, ‘Humanitarian War: Military Intervention and Human Rights,’ International Affairs 69/3 (1993), pp. 429–449 and Thomas M. Franck, ‘The Emerging Right to Democratic Governance,’ American Journal of International Law, 86/1 (1992), pp. 46–91.

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  • 17

    Weiss, Humanitarian Intervention, pp. 105–6.

  • 18

    Foley, ‘Normative Developments,’ p. 13.

  • 30

    Thomas G Weiss, ‘R2P after 9/11 and the World Summit,’ Wisconsin International Law Journal, 24/3 (2005), pp. 745–46, 750.

  • 31

    Bellamy, ‘The Responsibility to Protect and the Problem of Military Intervention’, p. 623.

  • 32

    Bellamy, ‘The Responsibility to Protect and the Problem of Military Intervention’, pp. 627–630, and Breakey, ‘The Responsibility to protect’, p 34.

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  • 33

    Alex J Bellamy, ‘The Responsibility to Protect – Five Years on,’ Ethics and International Affairs, 24/2 (2010), p. 148. Also Breakey, ‘The Responsibility to protect,’ p 30.

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  • 35

    United Nations General Assembly, ‘Implementing the Responsibility to protect.’ Breakey, ‘The Responsibility to protect,’ p 38.

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  • 37

    Foley, ‘Normative Developments’, p. 12. Brazil later changed this to ‘logical sequencing.’ See Thorsten Brenner, ‘Brazil as a norm entrepreneur: The “Responsibility While Protecting” initiative,’ Global Public Policy Institute, March 2013, p. 7.

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  • 40

    Kersten Knipp, ‘In Munich, Diplomats Despair over Syria Civil War,’ Deutsche Welle, 4 February, 2013: at http://www.dw.de/in-munich-diplomats-despair-over-syria-civil-war/a-16573158, accessed 14 February 2014.

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  • 42

    Gareth Evans, ‘Darfur: The world should be ready to intervene in Sudan,’ International Herald Tribune, 15 May 2004.

  • 43

     See Chantal Mouffe, On the Political (London: Routledge, 2005): chap. 2.

  • 44

    Anne Peters, ‘The Security Council’s Responsibility to Protect,’ International Organization Law Review, vol. 8 (2011), p. 38.

  • 46

    Bellamy, ‘The Responsibility to Protect – Five Years on’, pp. 159–160, 165.

  • 53

    Power, A Problem from Hell, p. 306.

  • 54

    Alex De Waal, ‘Darfur and the Failure of the Responsibility to Protect,’ International Affairs, 83/6 (2007), pp. 1039–1054.

  • 55

    Peters, ‘The Security Council’s Responsibility to Protect’, p. 39.

  • 57

    Breakey, ‘The Responsibility to Protect,’ p. 81.

  • 58

     For example, Thomas G. Weiss, ‘The Sunset of Humanitarian Intervention? The Responsibility to Protect in a Unipolar Era,’ Security Dialogue, 35/2 (2004), pp. 142–144, and Weiss, ‘R2P after 9/11 and the World Summit’, p. 754.

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  • 59

    MacFarlane, Thielking and Weiss, ‘The Responsibility to Protect,’ p. 982.

  • 62

     See Mary Ellen O’Connell, ‘How to Lose a Revolution,’ The Responsibility to Protect: Challenges and Opportunities in Light of the Libyan Intervention, e-International Relations, November 2011.

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  • 65

    Mepham and Ramsbotham, ‘Introduction’, p. 2.

  • 66

    Hugo Slim, ‘Dithering Over Darfur? A Preliminary Review of the International Response,’ International Affairs, 80/5 (2004), p. 819.

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  • 68

    Ibid., p. 346.

  • 69

    Allen D. Hertzke, Freeing God’s Children: The Unlikely Alliance for Global Human Rights (Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield, 2004).

  • 70

    Gareth Evans, ‘Darfur and the Responsibility to Protect,’ The Diplomat, August 2004.

  • 71

    Traub, ‘Unwilling and Unable’, pp. 4–7.

  • 73

    De Waal, ‘Darfur and the Failure of the Responsibility to Protect’, p. 1043.

  • 74

    Ibid., pp. 1042–43.

  • 75

    Mahmood Mamdani, Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics and the War on Terror, (London: Verso, 2009), p. 33.

  • 76

    Traub, ‘Unwilling and Unable’, p. 2.

  • 77

    Andrew Natsios, ‘Beyond Darfur: Sudan’s Slide Toward Civil War,’ Foreign Affairs, May/June 2008.

  • 79

    Slim, ‘Dithering Over Darfur?’, p. 826; Bellamy, ‘Trojan Horse?’, p. 41.

  • 81

    Ibid, pp. 26–29.

  • 82

    Ibid, p. 27.

  • 86

    Francis Deng, ‘The Conflict in Sri Lanka – a Crisis Without Winners,’ Guardian, 17 May, 2009.

  • 88

    International Crisis Group, ‘War Crimes in Sri Lanka,’ Asia Report 191, 17 May, 2010.

  • 89

     See Leslie Vinjamuri, ‘Deterrence, Democracy, and the Pursuit of International Justice,’ Ethics and International Affairs, 24/2 (2010), pp. 191–211.

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  • 94

    Hehir, ‘The Responsibility to Protect’, pp. 226–228.

  • 100

    Breakey, ‘The Responsibility to protect,’ p. 61.

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