Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 17:51 | SYDNEY
Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 17:51 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Is the UN the right place for R2P?

20 April 2011 11:32

Andrew Farran writes:

Further to Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan's apposite comment on the predicament of NATO and the no-fly zone over Libya, and the failure there to align strategy and tactics, such situations reside in an area that involves neither hard nor soft power.

The former would engender a concerted response; the latter only optional or discretionary responses. The formulation and implementation of the R2P principle is a response to the 'something must be done' syndrome. Those wishing to see 'something' being done, would prefer some degree of UN legal cover for their actions. So 'something' may be done but because of legal and political constraints it is never enough. To gain enough, namely the likes of boots on the ground, it has to get past the veto of permanent powers should they see no threat to their national interests or a precedent being created that could come back to haunt them.

So those who manage to get something started, in some form or another, are sooner or later faced with the prospect of failure and seek the authority and resources to by-pass the initial constraints (in terms of strategy and objective) in order to make their intervention a success. The trouble is that the world community is unlikely to provide at that stage what it wouldn't provide at the outset. If even a humanity conscious nation like modern Germany cannot bring itself to support the R2P principle in a case such as Libya, then what chance is there of gaining the necessary support from the likes of China or Russia'
So we are back to the dilemma's faced previously when need is not matched by an adequate response with 'legal' sanction, in that those who believe they have a moral 'responsibility to protect' have to resort to so-called 'coalitions of the willing' in order to align strategy with tactics and thereby achieve some degree of real success.

But how in those cases can it now be said that legitimacy begins and ends when the UN by and large fails to live up to its own principles' The issue comes down to whether there is an alignment between moral responsibility and national interest.