Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 22:42 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 22:42 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: R2P in the arc of instability

8 June 2012 10:15

Andrew Farran comments on our recent discussions about Responsibility to Protect (R2P):

R2P is not dead; it stumbled in Syria. Its potential over time in situations not involving significant powers is yet to be tested.

Its potential for Australia in particular may lie in relation to the micro-states of the Western Pacific ('the arc of instability') should one or other of these fail partially or totally as a matter of governance with serious threats to population, local and foreign. R2P does not necessarily require the use of force or armed intervention to achieve its objectives. But if other means were to fail, and forceful intervention became necessary, how might Australia respond in keeping with good legal principle?

Would Australia and other regional states be wrong to act in accordance with R2P in those circumstances? Would the UN Security Council be likely to oppose intervention when what was at stake was the lives and property of victimised civilians in a failed or failing state?

In the absence of UNSC explicit approval, Australia could still be under immense pressure, domestically and regionally, if not more widely internationally, 'to do something'. Without acting against the views of other regional countries, and possibly in concert with them, would we not take the R2P path?

For these reasons Australia has a direct interest in giving R2P more depth and traction, even if qualified, as it evolves towards becoming an accepted legal norm. It doesn't have to be a captive for all time, and in all circumstances, to 'sovereignty' considerations.