For and Against R2P in Burma

The concept of Responsibility to Protect (R2P)is the new buzz word in international relations. The original idea was that a state had the responsibility of its citizens, failure to which other nations had the moral cover to intervene.

The concept of Responsibility to Protect (R2P)is the new buzz word in international relations. The original idea was that a state had the responsibility of its citizens, failure to which other nations had the moral cover to intervene.

This noble idea was to make the international community intervene when a state was unwilling or unable to prevent, Genocide, war crime, Crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

Initially only peaceful means could be used, (dialogue, diplomatic pressure and sanctions) preferably through the UN, and military intervention would only be taken as a last resort

R2P was met by stiff resistance from some quarters who saw it as an infringement to a state’s sovereignty, while proponents saw it as a swift call for action because of the UN’s legendary bureaucracy.

When the Genocide erupted in Rwanda in 1994, it took the international community ages to even pronounce the word, leave alone sending in the cavalierly. Had R2P been in place, lives could have been saved.

R2P has now gained new momentum in the last couple of week or so at the advent of Cyclone Nargis which devastated the state of Mynnmar, better known under its former name of Burma on May 3. Over 100,000 lost their lives and millions are homeless and in need of aide.

From the sounds coming from the corridors of some powerful nations, force should be used to take humanitarian aide to Rangoon regardless of the intransigence of the military junta. War drums are a dangerous option.

The people of Burma need to be helped back on their feet, but not at the cost of causing a greater calamity, another endless war.

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