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Renewing R2P

In recent years, it has become increasingly apparent that the current international
architecture for governing the worldbased on the foundation of state sovereigntyis
fracturing. Risks transcend borders and the need to focus on issues of human security
remains paramount. The challenges presented to us by internal conflict and suffering
demonstrate that our old understandings of threat no longer apply.
The Rwandan genocide represented the most upsetting collapse of international
cooperation and humanitarian assistance of the 1990s. The ineffective response from the
UN, the inviolability of state sovereignty, and the eventual outcome still haunt many of
us to this day.
The Canadian policy proposal of human securitywhich ultimately resulted in
the creation of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrinewas meant as a new
foundation for an international architecture to redefine state sovereignty and work to
eliminate impunity for state and military leaders who would choose to promote or allow
violence against civilians.
It was with a sense of hope that those of us who were the instigators of the R2P
concept witnessed its inclusion in the World Summit Document at the UN in 2005. That
hope was underscored further when the words Responsibility to Protect were
included in Security Council resolutions and applied in both Darfur (Sudan) and Libya.
However, recently I feel as if all of this progress might be falling through the cracks. On
the one hand we are witnessing Syria tear itself apart, with over 150,000 civilian
casualties and millions of refugees and internally displaced persons. Three years on and
the UN Security Council finds itself constrained by the outdated and overused veto
decisions from its P5 members even in the most dire of circumstances. Following the
events in Ukraine, we have also witnessed a return of Cold War-like aggression and
hostility by Russia. Meanwhile, the response of Western democracies has been heavier
on the rhetoric than on effective action.
Last month, the University of Winnipeg recognized Dr. Denis Mukwege, a
medical doctor and activist from Bukavu in the eastern region in Democratic Republic
of the Congo (DRC), with an honorary doctorate. He was in Winnipeg fundraising for
Panzi Hospital, a refuge for women who have suffered from acts of sexual violence, in
what might be the most dangerous places for women in the whole world.

Over lunch one day, we were able to share our fears and concerns for the region
and to reflect on the long history of a conflict that has taken 6 million lives. Indeed, the
regional instability there was directly linked to the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda.
Mukwege expressed that the tensions that were stirred up so many years ago remain
fresh like old wounds that refuse to heal. His is concerned that the possibility for
violence remains real in the region and will do so for the foreseeable future. It is clear
that the international community has failed the people of the DRC in the most egregious
of waysby doing almost nothing.
In terms of R2P, there is clearly much more work to be done to protect the lives
of civilians. Just as we had to 20 years ago, it is time to once again reevaluate the
assumptions we are working under and to delineate a better way of governing the world
in a more just and collaborative manner.
R2P is a concept that still needs a lot of work in its definition and application,
but there is hope. It is encouraging to note that there is an active debate taking place in
the emerging states on how the principle of R2P can be better adapted to meet their
concerns and needs. There is, I find, an awakening interest among young people in the
idea as a way of resetting governance to match the complexity and significance of
global challenges.
As one measures progress in reforming international practices and institutions,
the decade and half since we initiated the Commission on Intervention and State
Sovereignty is not a lot time to assess the evolution of R2P. But the next ten years will
be even more crucial in determining how it and its variations can be enhanced to new
levels of acceptance and application.

Fonte: AXWORTHY, Lloyd. 17

de abril de 2014.