Battling the “Responsibility to Protect”
The Economist reports that the concept of “responsibility to protect” — the idea that countries have a responsibility and right to protect people when their own governments cannot or will not — is facing increased resistance at the UN.
Smaller Third World countries such as Nicaragua are leading the counterattack, characterizing the notion instead as the right to intervene — and a right which would only in practice be held by the rich and powerful. (Nicaragua’s role is yet another case of history coming back to haunt the United States, which characterized its proxy war on the Central American country in the 1980s as support for “freedom fighters.”)
The responsibility to protect may be crucial in securing a future in which human rights are broadly protected, but it will make only slow progress at best: too many small countries are suspicious that it will be only an excuse, not a principle, and too many more powerful players — including China, India, and Turkey — may be too worried that it might someday be brought up in the context of their own self-determination and human rights issues.
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