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Libya, Syria and the responsibility to protect

what do the different responses of the international community say about the credibility of the responsibility to protect principle?

Rechten: Alle rechten voorbehouden

Libya, Syria and the responsibility to protect

what do the different responses of the international community say about the credibility of the responsibility to protect principle?

Rechten: Alle rechten voorbehouden

Samenvatting

The aim of the thesis is to test the credibility of the Responsibility to Protect ("r2p") principle by looking at how the principle was applied in Libya and addressing the question of why R2P was not applied in Syria. The first part of the thesis is about the origins and definition of R2P. The second part compares the reaction of the international community to the conflicts in Libya and Syria. The third part aims to analyse this information by addressing the question of selective application of R2P. The thesis concludes with four recommendations to the United Nations that may make timely and decisive application of R2P in future conflicts easier and more consistent.

R2P entails that the sovereignty of states is not only a right, but also a responsibility. It gives the international community a responsibility to protect populations of other states if these states fail to protect these populations themselves. R2P was adopted by the UN in 2005.

R2P was implemented in Libya through Resolutions 1970 (which called for non-coercive means) and 1973 (that called for a no fly zone and "all necessary means" to stop the atrocities committed by the Gaddafi regime against civilians). The R2P intervention in Libya is considered by Gareth Evans a textbook example for future R2P interventions.

Although R2P was developed as a principle that applied to all states at all times, Syria proved that there are many other factors involved apart from the protection of civilians. First of all, regime change in Syria would not guarantee the safety of minority groups, due to ethnic tensions in the country. Second, the opposition in Syria was fragmented, making it difficult to provide support. Third, there has not been one event in Syria that immediately triggered an intervention, in contrast to for instance Gaddafi's hate speech. Fourth, Syria's allies within the Arab League and Syria's relationship with the permanent members of the Security Council (in particular with Russia and China) and with the Iranian government, made intervention far less attractive for the West, illustrating the importance of regional organisations. Fifth, given the location of Syria in the Middle East, a large-scale conflict in the country constitutes in a significant risk of a regional war. Sixth, in terms of logistic possibilities, Syria was a far more difficult case than Libya.

In terms of geopolitical and logistic considerations, Libya was a relatively easy case. Yet, Syria proved that economic, social and geopolitical considerations remain paramount to the protection of populations. Moreover, Libya and Syria proved that the Security Council - at least in its current composition - is not the appropriate body to authorise R2P interventions. An independent commission or secretariat of R2P should therefore look into the possibility of enlarging the permanent membership of the Security Council. Furthermore, when the Security Council fails to authorise an intervention, the authorisation should be transferred to the General Assembly, to avoid that one or two permanent members block all possibilities for intervention to protect their own national interests.

Toon meer
OrganisatieDe Haagse Hogeschool
AfdelingESC Europese Studies / European Studies
Jaar2012
TypeBachelor
TaalEngels

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