In a fast-changing global conflict environment, would the letters of the law be more important than the humanistic actions of men, especially where mass atrocities are about to be or being committed? “Imagine for one moment that, in those dark days and hours leading up to the Rwandan genocide, there had been a coalition of states ready and willing to act in defense of the Tutsi population, but the council had refused or delayed giving the green light. Should such a coalition then have stood idly by while the horror unfolded? “Kofi Annan (Annan, 1999). This is the circumstance under which the former secretary general captured the aftermath of the 1994 Rwanda genocide; where not only did the law failed but the jurying process as well failed mankind. More than 800,000 lives were lost during the Rwanda genocide and many more displaced (Verpoorten, 2005).
The argument of Pogge rest on the insinuation that, humanitarian interventions are largely based on pursuit of national interest; rather the moral responsibilities usually put forward under the cover of humanitarian concern motive. Much reference had been consistently linked to the Rwanda genocide. Despite all the resources within the limit of United Nations Peacekeeping Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), capable states refused to do anything to prevent the genocide; in fact, capable states became an accomplice by reducing the capacity of UNAMIR to even be able to halt the atrocities. Instead, the French military provided training to the genocidal regime, the Belgian withdrew its troop’s contribution to UNAMIR, and the United States refuse to acknowledge it as genocide.
The eventual blow came from Kofi Annan (acting under US influence), who instructed UNAMIR to only protect foreign nationals (Pogge, 2010). His argument rests on the falsehood being propagated by western power/societies about humanitarianism, that there are no heroes of humanity anywhere as claimed, but hypocrites, who based unwillingness to prevent atrocities on UN legal constraints, but move unhindered when its interests are threatened, necessitating intervention. Could the same have been said during Iraqi inversion? Of course not because, control of global oil reserve was paramount to US national interest.
However, why did Mr. Pogge’s focus goes to Rwanda, and not Kosovo, or Ivory Coast (2011), or Kenya (2007/2008), Central African Republic (2013), Mali (2012), etc.? I guess there was an attempt to morally bankrupt the humanitarian intervention or the responsibility to protect idea, in to order justify the argument for an alternative system to the UN Charter (international laws) and Un Security Council adjudication procedures (jurying process) currently being used in the global system. I opined that, while the laws set the principles guiding actions of states and non-state actors, the adjudication process help discuss the morality of actions vis-à-vis the law and take action to uphold the law and universal moral values.
Therefore, the jurying process is the backbone of morality governing international laws. The two works simultaneously. The laws provide the conscience for the jurying process, and the jurying process help mitigate gaps not appropriately address by laws and other moral considerations. I support humanitarian intervention based on collective action through the jurying process of the UN Security Council, not unilateral intervention no matter how morally justified it sound.
Has humanitarian intervention done more good than harm? Pogge’s argument is that, little evidence supports state’s regular rationalization of humanitarian military intervention since World War II, insisting that their forceful interventions do more harm than good. The continuous unchallenged use of this concept is increasingly driving less powerful or weak states into acquiring or building arsenals, including those prohibited, e.g. nuclear arms or weapons of mass destruction to maximize their deterrence options, in the wake of “we don’t know who is next”; a current typical example is Iran’s build-up of nuclear arsenal. The inversion of Iraq and Afghanistan are an eye opener to the rest of the world. But, let’s not forget that these two country’s interventions are products of unilateralism which I do not support.
Therefore, I affirm totally with the argument in favor of respect for the plain meaning of UN charter, which is based on respect for sovereign independence of states without eternal interference except on conditions of state’s inability to protect its population or aggression on others; but irrespective of some of the derail of the responsibility to protect or humanitarian intervention (through jurying process), I believe it remain the most formidable deterrence force against mass atrocities or gross human rights violation by authoritarian regimes and rescuer of failing states due to outbreak of conflicts.
The jurying concept of aligning or reconciling the international laws with the universal shared moral values, in form of adjudication through the UN Security Council is one of the innovative ways of addressing the polarized ideas on humanitarian interventions, especially those based on Responsibility to Protect (R2P). However, this reasoning did not gained much sympathy from Pogge. He will not have problem with it, but will have problem if the adjudicators will be government of states as currently represented in the UN Security Council. The centrality is that, justice will be miscarried in favor of the major powers, since fairness requires an adjudication process that is not influenced by power differentials and prior relationship among the disputants. My arguments tore along the path of Pogge, unlike the national jurors who are blind to interests of parties in conflict; the states in the international system are essentially interest-driven. Furthermore, these jurors (especially of UN Security Council) are politicians, diplomats, states officials who have prejudices and biases on international political relations amongst states, usually divided along friends/neutral/enemies. Therefore, adjudications by these states actors cannot be said to be un-influenced by their power. The removal of Muammar Gaddafi of Libya amplified this argument. Again, in Libya’s case, the interest was never the acclaimed rhetoric of responsibility to protect, rather, the motive was control of international oil resources.
The jurying concept would have been the most appropriate way to fuse the law with global shared values in order to prevent atrocities against mankind. However, the increasingly entangled interests of states prevents many time decisions that could have prevented genocide or crime against humanity. Syria is a case in hand, where Russia being an ally of President Bashad Al-Assad, consistently blocked all attempts or prevents meaningful adjudications relating to humanitarian intervention to protect civilians. This had led to tens of thousands of deaths and millions displaced abroad.
Jurying, also have become a tool in the hand of the powerful states to legitimize intervention or bully smaller/weaker states into submission on subject that borders on their interests. The example of Palestinian quest for recognition in the United Nations and UNESCO led to US threatening to cut its financial annual votes to the UN agency and also shut aids to aid-dependent Ramallah government. While many time it has been used for selfish interests, however, there are commendable moral duties that humanitarian intervention/R2P has served; e.g. in Bosnia, Kosovo, Dafur, etc.
I can safely conclude that, the jurying process, though help provide flexible avenue for dancing around the UN charter or the law and allows a pragmatic or moral approach to humanitarian emergencies. I share the skepticism of Pogge about the miss-use that have characterized the jurying instrument, however, the instrument still (in my view) provide the most appealing way of morally drawing global attention and building consensus on morally acceptable or unacceptable circumstances; especially on protecting an oppressed population or in conflict engulfed environments. United State is the biggest influencer using the jurying process, because of its strength and dominance. In the aftermath of the September 11 attach on the United States and build-up to getting a jurying blessing from the UN Security Council for Iraq’s inversion, president George W. Bush took his place in history with his famous statement “it is either you are with us or against us”. This statement further demonstrate or underline the complexity and dilemma created between the weak and the strong states, especially as it relates to bullying or influencing weaker states towards interest-based decisions.
Therefore, I am on Pogge’s side with the assertion that, fairness rhetoric may perverse the entire moral discuss, but so long as states are self-interested and very unequal in power, the outcomes of any realistically conceivable jurying process will reflect the existing power imbalance. Any such process will be unfair. Aligning the Pogge and Franck’s kind of jurying, sometimes the approach does not promote bridging gap between law and universal shared moral values. E.g. the continual violation of international laws, conventions and mockery of the collective widely shared moral values by Israel backed by the US, over expanding settlements in the occupied territories, despite UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338.
Importantly, lesson derived from the unsuccessful attempt to use the jurying process for selfish gains by superpowers like the US is that, it opens the doors for questioning or confronting the overbearing attitude or excessive desires of the US to imposed its values on everybody. The point is that, and shared as well with Pogge, the UN Security Council jurying could be self-serving sometimes, because, the moral values of a few strong states dominates the moral values of the rest of us, most especially when the stakes are high; but this does not overshadow the significance of its other strives. The implication is that, one or few powerful states use the rest under the jurying process to legitimize pursuit of their national interest as moral burden of everyone.
However, if the question is all about protecting humanity from some rogue states or regime who don’t have respect for human lives or who are bent on developing nuclear arms capable of putting everyone at risk, then, it is morally expedient that collective action based on a jurying process (giving the limitation of the international laws) is appropriate. While the humanitarian military intervention or responsibility to protect concept is subject to miss-use (affront for imperialism and abuse of international laws) as indicated above, its uses in order to protect innocent people from violence perpetrated or permitted by the government of a state should be regarded as a moral duty. In the end, where human lives are at stake, do we continue to focus on permissibility of humanitarian intervention or moral responsibility to intervene; through collective, coordinated, and preemptive actions. It is like the saying that “it does not matter how your kill your enemy, as long as he is dead”