Tuesday, November 14, 2006

R2P in Darfur: It's Not All-Or-Nothing

Jean-Fran├žois Thibault's opinion piece in last Friday's Sudan Tribune does make a compelling case for why now is the time for the UN to intervene in Darfur to protect civilians. Thibault is right that the "responsibility to protect" framework was created specifically to sanction collective action (welcomed or not) when states fail to fulfill the basic responsibilities (namely civilian protection from mass harm) that accompany sovereignty. Darfur could not be a more perfect case of this.

However, Thibault and many other commentators tend to overlook one of the other valuable contributions of R2P: that intervention is no longer all-or-nothing. Effectively responding to mass killing requires action on many levels - financial, economic, diplomatic, information and military. Though the international community may be hesitant on formal military intervention, that doesn't mean they have to remain inactive. In fact, groups like the Genocide Intervention Network have been urging the U.S. to freeze the assets of known perpetrators in Khartoum, impose targeted sanctions on the regime and bolster the African Union forces on the ground.

This is not to say that a UN force is not urgently needed to save lives (it is), but we need to use caution in how we speak of R2P. Thusfar, I would argue, the concept has been over-militarized. A true commitment to the "responsibility to protect" demands action on many levels to 'prevent, react and rebuild.' Perhaps then we might start to consider what a comprehensive R2P agenda/strategy would be for Darfur.


Blogger GottaBeKD said...

here here... i completely agree... the reality of what intervention truly is differs greatly from what it has come to mean as of late.

economic and political pressures are often the best passive route to calming political waters, and this is often forgotten to the more active route - force.

good topics... :)

3:32 PM  

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