From time being, a massive violation and abuse of the fundamental human rights exists. In the most recent era, the advent of the last three decades experienced a shift of these violations from the trendy inter-state conflicts to all forms of internal threats. Conversely, the last one hundred years has witnessed a sizeable increase in international collaboration and solidarity. Human efforts to combat crime and engage in activities to promote human welfare and security have resulted in the conception of international organizations such as the UN and NATO. Subsequently, the 20th century has witness a massive contradiction trapped between humanity’s motivation to contest all forms of threats associated with mankind and its apparent failure to effectively activate and execute its intended actions. More than ever, serious human right breach is still experienced in today’s world. The Libya crisis which still dominates the headlines of every media is a notable example.
While it evident that threats to humanity cuts across the globe, a pragmatic observation indicates that most of perpetrators of these crimes against humanity are mostly seen in the third world where dictatorship administration still exists (Thomas et al., 2002). While all sovereign states reserves the right to administer its territory, contemporary security issues might necessitate intervention by others at some point in-time for the welfare of humanity.
With this in mind, several factors that make this view well contested still persist. Claiming that one can absolutely intervene in issues that threaten humanity will be approving of a subject that is not precisely limited and open to several interpretations. The concept of Responsibility to Protect challenges the states to protect not only its own people, but also, those people whose state have failed to protect. This essay particularly focuses on crises involving situations where the state has been accused of engaging in the act of genocide. A crime listed among the four crimes against humanity in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document. For a better insight, I will explore the case of Darfur and how the international community responded to it. This will enable a proper engagement with the debate on the Responsibility to Protect and Humanitarian Intervention taking into consideration the sovereignty of a state.
Darfur: Background to the crisis
For close to a decade, the world witnessed a horrified situation similar to that of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. About 4.2 million Darfuri civilians were victim of a bloody massacre, brutal rape and a direct displacement from their immediate homes (ICRtoP, 2010). The crisis which is believed to have its roots in a long term marginalization and neglect of the Furs, the Massalit, and the Zaghawa tribes by the successive governing regime from Khartoum was aggravated byDarfur’s segregation from the North-South regional peace process in 2003 (HCIDC, 2005, p:9).
The cliche state of affairs to Darfur crisis is that of the marginalized group taking up arms in opposition to the government in Khartoum which was equally and fatally countered by the Arab militia in a bloody ethnic cleansing (Brosche, 2008, p:5). Undisputedly, the perpetrators of these atrocious acts are the Sudanese government-supported Janjaweed Military Group. With no form of over-estimation, at least 400,000 people have been murdered in the statistics presented by the Humanitarian Affairs Chapter of the United Nations (ICRtoP, 2010). Although the Sudanese government has been accused of master-minding a drive of ethnic cleansing by means of an alternative armed forces, yet, the international community of states having the ability to quell the unrest in the troubled Darfur region failed to take the lead in exemplifying actions that will protect the vulnerable civilians due to contradicting interest between geopolitical concerns and a deficient political motivation (ICRtoP, 2010).
Without any prejudice, the Sudanese government blatantly overlooked the welfare of its people by failing in their Responsibility to Protect the Dafuris. In this situation, the Responsibility to Protect, though contested by different school of thoughts becomes an objective to be upheld by the international community of states if the rights and welfare of the agonized Dafuris has to be preserved.
Certain theoretical perspective will possibly explain the behaviour of certain states and the international community. A general overview of realism and liberalism theory will sufficiently highlight basic opinion which has fashioned observers intuitive assumptions about humanitarian interventions (Hehir, 2010, p: 61).
The lethargic attitude and lack of political motivation of the international community to respond to the crises in Darfur invariably corroborates John Mearsheimer in his renowned and stimulating write-up titled “The False Hope of International Institution”. His argument is relatively rigid because the situation in Darfur seems to favor his opinion which forwards that a failed state does not necessitate intervention from external nations except there is a relative gain (1994, p: 12). International institutions hardly ever exert any momentous authority on states actions and as such, subject itself to criticisms (Donnelly, 2000: p 132). For example, nine main decrees coupled with 21 presidential statements have been adopted since the inception of the crises in Darfur, yet, the situation has at its best remained the same and at its worse deteriorated further (Prendergast et al, 2008, p: 2). Classical realist like Mearsheimer argues that the international community is prone to failures in its Responsibility to Protect, hence, unreliable. Neo realist on the other hand, will bother less about morals, which significantly damages the idea of humanitarian intervention. Realists like E. H Carr continuously asserts that, morality are mere initiatives of the super powers to continue to enjoy perpetual domination in every possible capacity by advocating humanitarian intervention (Hehir, 2010, p: 61).
That said, the realism perspective to the crisis in Darfur possibly explains the slow response of the international community. Various states constituting the Security Council’s political interest invariably determines the effectiveness of any intervention. Though the regime in Washington was the first to label the crisis in Darfur Genocide, however, the mix of sanctions and its obvious interest to get information about Al-Qaeda from the administration in Khartoum has some implications to the concept of Responsibility to Protect. The United States constitutes a potential member of the Security Council. Thus, its political will to support Humanitarian Intervention will go a long way to ensure the success in Darfur (Brosche, 2008, p: 96). These actions have some realism in itself, in that every state should ensure its own survival.
Realism as an IR theory suggest that, the well-being of a state should never be committed to any form of international covenant, and efforts of global governance through international norms should be resisted since behaviours of over-arching bodies are controlled by the interest of the super powers constituting them (Kegley, 2007: p 31).
This standpoint advocates a logical agreement. If the argument by realist represents human beings as intensely flawed and naturally egocentric, then the proposal of building an ideal world is meaningless. Not in any degree can an organization be more powerful to the qualities of its constituting members. Therefore, global tranquility becomes a target outside the scope of any distinct state party. Just as one’s personal heart desires cannot be controlled by another, so also a state fundamental ethics cannot be determined by others. Though influence can sometimes be persuasive, however, the explicit approval to give the final verdict resides within the individual states.
Liberalism on the other hand advocates that international peace is possible and can be acquired through the teamwork of individual states. Though there are different variant of the liberal assumptions, however, the fundamentals of this school of thought emphasizes moral standards over the quest of power. It defines politics at the global level as contend for consensus rather than a struggle for supremacy and status. Kant’s approach of this theory tells us that “peace can be perpetual”. Therefore, conflicts are absurd and going against nature. It is a simulated contrivance and not a result of some distinguished traits of human nature (Burchill et al., 2009: p 58).
For this argument, the international community must identify itself in other to abolish those institutions that make conflict probable. States must also reconstruct their political structures so that democratic control and social liberties within states can protect human privileges and facilitate healthier relations amongst states. (Kegley, 2007: p 26-27). Followers of this idea will likely agree that “every extreme abuse of human rights deserves intervention by the whole human race falling under the international community for humanitarian purposes” (Annan, 2004). Since NATO’s interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo in 1995 and 1999 respectively were considered a relative success by some, then this approach possibly explains the reactions of some commentators as regards to the crisis in Darfur and subsequently, identifies itself with the norm of humanitarian intervention (Miller, 2010, p: 150).
International Community Response in Darfur: A failure to intervene
The ineffective action in Rwanda makes it difficult to find who absolutely defies intervention in the twentieth century. Though several bias still exist among different commentators especially when interventions involves military actions, however, projections of success in a deteriorating instance may theoretically rationalize humanitarian intervention (Abbott, 2005, p: 15). There is a general support, if not total concurrence which substantiate humanitarian interventions whenever there exist a gross breach of human welfare. However, who takes charge of intervention and who dictates when to do so appear to be a major concern (Pattison, 2010, p: 2).
The UN has been the platform from which the global affair of human rights transpires. It was the UN that first launched international models that protects the rights of individuals and groups enclosed in the UN Charter (United Nations, 1948). Consequently, the UN is usually reprimanded whenever there is a case of substantial human rights infringement. There is no better accountability for this judgment other than its recognition as the most universal entity whose objective accommodates every nation state as much as possible.
The obscurity associated with humanitarian intervention generally is that, it is very expanse in scope and as such commits it to several interpretation and criticisms from one state to another and even among individuals. To clarify the unclearness in the Human Rights Documents, 18 Human Rights expert were elected to deal with such contention (OHCHR, 1996). In the final ordeal of clarification, the UN Security Council reserves the right to decide if the circumstance necessitates intervention by them or any other party. However, implementing these laws in most cases has been quite difficult. For example, Milosevic’s prosecution process was a drama as the massacre in Bosnia was subjected to several interpretations and criticisms (PPU, 1995).
In the occurrence of similar situations involving crimes against humanity, especially when a state which is meant to ensure the welfare of its citizens ridiculously turn around and becomes a major threat to its own people like that which is presently experienced in Libya, there exist a structure to be adopted titled “Procedure 1503”. This structure named after the decree of the UN Commission on Human Rights aims to address consistent patterns of gross, constant and evident contravention of all human rights reported by individuals or non-governmental groups (OHCHR, 2007). Even with existence of this structure and several others like Human Rights Committee that were primarily established to ensure that justified humanitarian interventions takes place without a self interest agenda, several disputation still prevails. It was on this note that, the UN Security Council facilitated the establishment of an authority called the “International Criminal Court” in 2002 to deal with concerns of human rights breach prior to, or subsequently in conjunction with the Human Rights Committee, the UN and other key international bodies (CICC, 2002). Despite the opposition faced by this court at it conception by three strong members of the security council namely, the US, Russia and China, the birth of this institute brought about commendable results within it capacity. As regards to the fundamental Human Rights, this institute generated some vital agreements which are enclosed in the ICC fact sheet 1 to administer a positive intention channelled towards protecting, upholding and promotion of human welfare (AI, 2004). Evidently, the UN as the most represented platform within the international community has in various capacity demonstrated that there is an objective of human security to be achieved by prioritizing humanitarian welfare.
However, one factor peculiar to the UN is the practice of an odd habit of “barking without biting”. This attitude has been needlessly prevalent that belligerents no longer regard the regulations of the international community as plausible (Brosche, 2008, p: 103). For example, the sanction authorized against the government of Sudan under the 1591 Resolution of the Security Council was greatly undermined, thus, confirming Khartoum’s conviction that the Security Council is deficient of a strong political determination in the event of a mass killing (Prendergast et al, 2008, p: 6). If I would give my opinion on this toothless bite attitude exemplified by the international community, it will be that of a disappointment. Allowing these tolls of death and then prosecuting the perpetrators several years later is not good enough, preventing crimes against humanity by pre-emption or prompt intervention is not too much.
Just like the case of Rwanda, the Darfur crisis was quite speculative. Several NGO’s like Amnesty International, Medecins Sans Frontieres and the International Crisis Group signalled the world concerning the up-rising catastrophe in Darfur sometimes in February, 2003 (AI, 2003, p:1). As most pessimists would have envisage, the dawdling stimulus of the international community and a misplaced priority to conclude the North-South peace agreement in Sudan defiled every necessary pre-emptive action that would have prevented the bloodsheds (HCIDC, 2005, p: 17). Though the Security Council adopted Resolution 1556 of Chapter V11 of the UN Charter which demanded the Sudanese government to disarm the Janjaweed Militia and prosecute its leaders accordingly. Regrettably, the lack of enforcement mechanism coupled with de-motivated political will pointed out the shortcomings of every party that represents the international community (Prendergast et al, 2008, p: 4). Sadly, several years after the fatal misery was set in motion, the crises in Darfur still remains a failure of the international community who failed to enforce every strategic steps channelled towards promoting human security in a state that calls for emergency.
The discourse of humanitarian intervention invariably summons a R2P. Declaring that the international community has the right to intervene in the affairs of another state is such a huge claim to make (Barnett, 2003, p: 174). However, for the sake of humanity, the international community reserves an ethical motive to preserve and protect the right of the vulnerable through pre-emption and intervention in failed states.
Responsibility to Protect
The inability of the international community to act proactively in response to the diversified occurrences of mass contravention of human rights witnessed in the post Cold War, and more exclusively in the 1990’s, incited Kofi Annan who was the UN Secretary General to summon the states to come to a resolution regarding the issue of state sovereignty and humanitarian intervention. This action was triggered after the 1999 NATO’s intervention in Kosovo. The supporting argument that drives the objective of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty set up by the Canadian Government was that of a R2P. It forwards that, in an event of a state failure to cater for the wellbeing of its people, the international community automatically assumes the R2P in all necessary capacity without necessarily seeking the consent of the host state (Hehir, 2010, p: 249). The definition of sovereignty as outlined in the UN Charter makes it clear that every states reserves a constrained and a regulated right and therefore, entitled to a code of non-interference in it internal matters by external bodies (ICISS, 2001, p:10). However, the ICISS report modified sovereignty from control to sovereignty as responsibility in both domestic and foreign affairs.
The term R2P presents this perspective of sovereignty like a new innovation. However, obvious discretion in the past has been in place to curtail state sovereignty which sometimes allows extension into neighbouring states that has portrayed vulnerability to avert their province from being utilised as a breed of terrorist and cross border raids (ICISS, 2001, p:12). To mention just a few is the UN as a whole, the Geneva Conventions, and the Security Council. These bodies have illustrated several actions which limit the sovereignty of a state such as outright sanctions and infrequent interventions e.g. the War in Korea in the early 1950’s. That said, it can be suggested that the ICISS modified version of sovereignty is basically, placing a name on an idea that has pragmatically existed and at the same time impelling force of strength since the late 1940’s.
This ‘new’ idea of sovereignty as drawn by the ICISS smoothens out the R2P. Emphasis is placed on the commitment to shield those whose states have failed to protect rather than the responsibility to intervene. In this context, the sole R2P resides within the state. However, the forthcoming rationale in question suggest intervention for the sake of humanity and supports the involvement of military capabilities in deteriorating circumstances, especially when major wreck is targeted towards the civilians and the host state is considered as unwilling, incapacitated or the main perpetrator of the harm itself (ICISS, 2001, p:16).
Just like we see in Darfur, the R2P was not readily assumed by the international community. While it was clear that human security was at stake in Darfur, the Security Council was not disposed to adopt military capabilities. Instead of authorizing the intervention with all necessary means as stated in the ICISS document, the Security Council further contradict the norms of the R2P by indicating to function with the terms of the Sudanese Government (Hehir, 2010, p: 249). However, this does not imply that the international community has lost all of its authority or become impaired. Perhaps, it is quite disappointing that the situation in the Darfur region received much awareness; yet, the international community response remains arguably futile (Hehir, 2010, p: 255). While the USA and the UK invoked a bill of legitimacy by invading Iraq and Afghanistan, they have consequently undermined their standings as norms carriers by avoiding their R2P the Darfuris. (Bellamy, 2005, p: 32). Evidently, the situation in Darfur reveals clearly, conflicting national interest with political motivation. Even if benevolence was the hallmark of every intervention, the crisis in Darfur suggests that there is no certification that states will act accordingly.
One big lesson to learnt from the last century is that massive violations of human rights is likely to re-occur except there is a mechanism is put in place to prevent its occurrence. Humanitarian intervention has some controversial stance; hence human security remains difficult to deal with. Not uncontested, the R2P seems like a better solution if objectively employed. However, a shift in the cultural norms of the political chiefs will do a lot of good to the concept. States need to accept limitation on their sovereignty and also to intervene prospectively without exhibiting any form of self interest. Achieving a clear humanitarian objective is more than a mere aspiration. It is essentially crucial and eventually rewarding. Just like the case of Rwanda, the civilians in Darfur deserved protection and could only rely on a third party aid. Promising affirmative statements needs to be put into action to prevent further damage to humanity. Judging from the situation in Darfur, it doesn’t seem that the international community has a proper mechanism to combat humanitarian calamity. And just like the shocking Genocide in Rwanda a couple of years back, the people of Darfur found themselves in another atmosphere of disaster confirming that nothing can be done, except there is a political motivation impelling for it.