Friday 20 Jul 2018 | 18:29 | SYDNEY
Friday 20 Jul 2018 | 18:29 | SYDNEY

Burma and R2P


Andrew Shearer

13 May 2008 10:25

Former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans, currently head of the International Crisis Group, has written an interesting op-ed about Burma and the 'Reponsibility to Protect' (R2P), a humanitarian intervention doctrine he helped create.

I'm inclined to think there is a case to be made that the responsibility to protect does apply to the present Burma situation. Whether the regime’s blocking access to aid organisations represents intent to commit a crime against humanity would be hard to establish, given the secrecy — although it would not be out of character. Leaving that to one side, in domestic law there is a point at which negligence becomes criminal. Establishing this lesser burden of proof seems pretty clear-cut in the current case.

While I wouldn't necessarily advocate following through with airdrops of humanitarian supplies at this stage  at least until there is evidence that this is the only way to avert a major humanitarian disaster — I do think the Chinese Government’s visceral dislike of the R2P doctrine is probably the best lever to pressure Beijing into pulling the generals into line. If I'm not mistaken that is probably what Evans is attempting.