Wrapping-up: What About a Splash in Legitimacy and Integrity?
I was recently reminded of the important lessons of Sergio Vieira De Mello’s diplomacy while reading a post by Karen Murphy over at Chasing the Flame. In the midst of this discussion on the Responsibility to Protect, stateless spaces and “state+” spaces (in Jonas Claes’s words, those countries/strong states unwilling to act as responsible sovereigns), the relevance of Sergio’s legacy captured by Samantha Power struck me:
* Legitimacy matters, and it comes both from legal authority or consent and from competent performance
*Fearful people must be made more secure
*Spoilers, rogue states, and non-state militants must be engaged, if only so they can be sized up and neutralized
*Dignity is the cornerstone of order
*We outsiders must bring humility and patience to our dealings with foreign lands
On the morning of September 14, 2009, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the first resolution (A/RES/63/308) on the Responsibility to Protect. Although the resolution is not yet available online, you can see a draft of the resolution (here) on the International Coalition for The Responsibility to Protect Website. While, as we have discussed in this virtual roundtable, serious progress is needed with the R2P norm in terms of operational strategies and implementation (including flexible warning-response-prevention mechanisms, appropriate military guidance through the chain of command to stop atrocities, and political will, among others) a GA resolution is a welcome step in the efforts aimed at preventing and stopping the R2P crimes of genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
With regards to spoilers and rogue states, Jonas offered a compelling argument for diplomatic approaches to engage R2P opponents (often strong states, according to his analysis) in civilian protection. As he reminds us, through the words of Gareth Evans: “State that can’t or won’t strop internal atrocity crimes are the kind of rogue, or failed states or failing states, that can’t or won’t stop terrorism, weapons proliferation, the spread of health pandemics… and more global risks.”
As to dignity, as Marion and others remind us, the role of local civil society in R2P efforts is crucial. The work of local actors she presents reminds us that civilian populations who are often reduced to the status of passive or neutral “victims” assert themselves and are essential to rethinking their situation and commenting on it. One objective here is to reduce the gap between what happens in the corridors of diplomacy and the reality on the ground.
And on the last point, the role of the international community as a whole, and the role of regions (as Sarah reminds us) is an important part of dealing with mass atrocities in our times. While this virtual roundtable certainly confers a sense of urgency in dealing with R2P crimes, and rightly so, it also recognizes the value of incremental positive changes.
In the spirit of The Mantle and the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect, I would like to end these comments by issuing an invitation to colleagues around the world who are working on addressing, concerned about, and perhaps experiencing mass atrocities crimes to weigh in on this debate. Your letters to Shaun Randol, editor of The Mantle, in reaction to this roundtable and the issues it is concerned with, would certainly enrich this discussion. Send your thoughts to letters [at] mantlethought.org (subject: On%20Whose%20Responsibility%20to%20Protect%3F) (letters(at)mantlethought.org).
Lastly: do you wonder what you can do to help prevent and stop mass atrocities?
*Educate yourself. The many different sources cited in this roundtable are good places to start. One of the most compelling resources I have seen recently is a short, powerful, creative video (here) on which describes the link between minerals used in our everyday electronics (like cell phones) and the devastating war in Congo.
*Act. Many groups out there, some referred to in this forum, offer both educational resources and many different choices of ways for you to act. If you are interested, I invite you to contact me (marie.mainil [at] gmail.com (marie.mainil(at)gmail.com))—I am happy to share ideas and opportunities to get involved which, I promise, beyond being essentially important, you will find rewarding and enjoyable.