Monday, November 06, 2006

To Intervene or Not to Intervene in Darfur?

If there is a live case for the application of "responsibility to protect" today, it must be Darfur. Yet, due to Khartoum's refusal to allow a UN peacekeeping force within its border, the UN Security Council is caught in a stalemate. Meanwhile, violence and systematic rape continue and may even be increasing in Darfur.

This raises a number of questions. First, should activists continue calling for the UN Security Council to override the Government of Sudan's resistance and send a Chapter VII force into the country? And if the UN SC continues to refuse, would a state or coalition of states be justified to take action outside the UN? The ICISS report on R2P insists on 'right authority', vested first in the UN SC; however, the record for the SC is quite poor (see Rwanda). Is Michael Walzer right to say: "If there is no collective response, anyone can respond. If no one is acting, act" (Walzer, 2002). I am inclined to agree if there is some way to compel/judge adherence to the praxis-based norms of R2P, namely the best practices of civilian protection.

However, Chester A. Crocker and J. Stephen Morrison write in today's Washington Post:
The demand by American activists for U.S.-led military intervention to halt genocide in Darfur by the Sudan government and its militia proxies is a utopian diversion that has led nowhere. Their verbal attacks on Khartoum and calls on China and Russia to stop blocking possible UN coercive action may express their frustration but do not make good foreign policy. The Bush administration needs to concentrate on the real choices for exercising U.S. influence and make the achievement of a verifiable negotiated settlement to end Darfur's carnage its top priority. To get there, it will need sustained high-level U.S. engagement using the full weight of America's diplomatic resources, including a serious and creative test of Chinese intentions, during and after the November 3-5 China-Africa summit.
They urge five incremental policy steps: (1) securing a ceasefire, (2) protecting humanitarian relief channels, (3) establishing a robust, hybrid African Union/UN peace operation, (4) beginning to demilitarize armed groups and (5) advancing a Darfur political dialogue. They argue that calls for U.S. military intervention are misguided, and should focus on practical and diplomatic solutions.

Perhaps one of the most important reframes of the R2P paradigm is that "intervention" is not just all-or-nothing. So are Crocker and Morrison right that reacting to Darfur's crisis needs more diplomacy and less chatter about intervention?

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