Preparedness Support: Helping Brace Beneficiaries, Local Staff and Partners for Violence is a new report under the auspices of the Cuny Center Humanitarian aid agencies can help beneficiaries, local staff and partners physically prepare themselves today for the violence they may face after we are separated tomorrow. This paper focuses on the many people who are at risk of being killed after events drive us apart. Their supportable capacity for self-preservation is the most neglected truth in our well-worn debates over civilian protection. There often comes a day when we must leave them or they must leave us, and we have missed our chance to help them tactically prepare for imminent threats. We are forced to leave our relief or development work—feeling we have abandoned them. They are forced to leave their communities or camps—and perhaps walk straight into danger. The Cuny Center cites unorthodox and often-overlooked civilian coping practices, as well as increasing (but scattered) precedents in aid agency support for the capacity of civilians to survive and serve others, alone, amid violence. These are brought together in tangible advisory modules in the life-critical areas of physical safety, economic survival, and local service delivery. Of all possible protections, the […]
The third and final part of my review of Gareth Evans’ The Responsibility to Protect. Risk of Perverse Incentives My qualms about R2P are driven not just by the lesson of Somalia and my discomfort with the conventional script about Rwanda, but also the experience of Darfur. The threat of military intervention in Darfur hung over the efforts to mediate a peace agreement between government and armed movements in Abuja. I continue to believe that the Abuja process was the best opportunity for peace. It failed for numerous reasons, among which the obstinacy of the Sudan government delegation ranks high. But one secondary reason was that armed intervention kept raising its voice. The roars of the tiger were louder than the braying of the donkeys. The general point here is that once the possibility of an armed intervention has been canvassed, it dominates the political stage. This can generate perverse incentives to block peace and escalate or prolong human suffering, in the hope that this will provoke a more favorable outcome—an intervention. There are good reasons to believe that this contributed to the prolongation of the crisis in Darfur. The fear of intervention certainly pressured the Sudan government to sign […]
Part 2 of my review of Gareth Evans’ The Responsibility to Protect. The Risk of Unrealistic Expectations The subtitle of Evans’ book is: “Ending mass atrocity crimes once and for all.” This is ambitious, perhaps hubristic. The subtitle may of course be a publisher’s conceit—having myself been the victim of poor editorial decisions (most newspaper readers don’t realize that it’s the copyeditor and not the author who chooses the title to an opinion piece) I don’t want to rush to judgement on this. But managing public expectations is an intrinsic part of the politics of R2P. And if ending these crimes is indeed the ambition of R2P, or widely believed to be so, then the perils of inflated expectations come into sharp focus. All things being equal, any increase in peace-related activities is a good thing. Prima facie, R2P is an impetus to peace and protection and therefore a good thing. Surely, expanding the norm can do no harm. But individual cases of peace-making can go badly wrong. While it is the belligerents themselves—cynical, ambitious or greedy political leaders—who start or restart wars, diplomats including peacemakers can inadvertently contribute to the conditions in which they do so. There is a […]
Recently, Gareth Evans, President of ICG and the architect of the “responsibility to protect” (R2P), accosted me and argued that I had misrepresented the doctrine—especially that I had equated it with the older, now-superseded notion of “humanitarian intervention.” He makes a similar point on page 58 of his book The Responsibility to Protect. This is the first part of a three-part review of The Responsibility to Protect. Let me start off by conceding that Evans and other leading proponents of R2P take pains to explain that their conception of the doctrine is much broader than a restatement of the rationale for intervention (as for example promoted by Bernard Kouchner’s droit d’ingérence). One of the recurring themes of Evans’ book is rebutting those who see R2P as a “trojan horse” for intervention or neo-colonial reassertion of control. The doctrine includes special emphases on prevention and post-conflict reconstruction, and seeks to shift the locus of concern from the external intervenor (who has a right or duty to intervene under the older formulation) to the right of the individual at risk, and the responsibilities of the state and international community to provide protection. The immediate intellectual progenitor of R2P is in fact Francis […]
The text of my presentation to the BBC’s World Tonight last week is now available online. (With a sentence added to reflect JEM’s attack on Khartoum, which occurred between my recording the piece and the time it was broadcast.) The more substantive article on which this was based was published last year in International Affairs and is available here.
The World Tonight last night on BBC Radio 4 was a 45 minute special devoted to an examination of the UK’s foreign policy. It was structured around Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s four priorities, viz terrorism, conflict and the responsibility to protect, carbon and the international system, with interviews and clips preceding a section by section interview with the Foreign Secretary. The section on R2P was introduced with a contribution from Alex de Waal proposing that R2P is no more than a slogan and concluding “RIP R2P” (with the emphasis falling on “peace”). David Miliband responds after that. You can listen to it for the next few days on this link; the section on R2P is between 19.19 and 19.26.