While I’m glad to see this issue examined, I was disappointed that there was no examination of the assumptions under which R2P was invoked or of its probable impact on Libyan society.
The case of Libya is a perfect example of why many students of international affairs claim R2P should rarely be invoked:
Most importantly, no one mentioned the fact that NATO’s treatment of Libya demonstrated total contempt for the wishes of the Libyan people and their rights to self-determination. While NATO’s governments were eager to recognize the Transitional National Council as Libya’s new government, they all—incredibly—pleaded ignorance about who they thought might be behind this movement. In fact, it became clear from reports, from photographs of Gadhafi and his son in crowds and from very fierce fighting that Libyans were supportive of Gadhafi in the face of the Western-backed attacks.
And why shouldn’t they be? Gadhafi, for all of his faults, has led a state that has topped the UN’s humanitarian index for Africa, with free medical care, free education, and even free food and housing for those in need. Gadhafi put Libyans first. Does anyone seriously think that this benevolence will continue with new, NATO-backed leadership?
It has to be understood that the “deeply-rooted problems” that underlie the “Arab Spring” are in fact the toxic remnants of colonialism. Dictators such as those from Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, and Yemen have been following the dictates of their Western sponsors rather than the needs and interests of their own populations. As UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk noted, such UN resolutions damage the reputation and credibility of the United Nations.
Karin Brothers, Toronto
Thank you, Peace, for your excellent article with Ernie Regehr and Elizabeth May on the R2P and the Libyan Intervention.
Paragraphs 138 and 139 of the R2P stress the need for the General Assembly to protect people from genocide, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing before crises and conflict break out.
Perhaps the international community should focus more on early warning and the diplomatic tools contained in Chapter V1 of the UN Charter.
Ed Napier, Montréal
For all the people who couldn’t make it out to protest but share the concerns expressed by Occupy protesters about corporate and government wrongdoing, there is a simple alternative. Gather a few friends together, have a coffee party, and help make Canadian governments address your concerns by writing letters to your politicians.
Politicians can’t hear you when you complain over your morning coffee to your friends or family, or during your coffee break to your work colleagues, or to whomever you hang out with at your local coffee shop or cafe.
But if Canadians spent as much time writing politicians about their concerns as they spend buying, making and drinking coffee, they would have the good, democratic governments and responsible big businesses they want.
Duff Conacher, founder of Democracy Watch and CoffeeParty.ca, Ottawa