Monday, June 06, 2005

A Court Cannot Stop Genocide

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has announced it will investigate alleged war crimes in Sudan. While those responsible for the genocide in the Darfur region should indeed be brought to justice, the involvement of the ICC is hardly the kind of forceful action the international community needs to take.

This is much like the police arriving at the scene of an on-going murder rampage and rather than doing anything to stop it, calling the local judge and getting the courts to look into the matter. With the United Nation's tepid and almost nonexistent reaction to the Darfur genocide, it's now more clear than ever that the UN is simply not an effective body for addressing world crises. In the coming years, the world community, particularly the democratic nations, are going to have to seriously address the UN's many failings.

13 Comments:

At 5:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your analogy is misplaced. It's as if, during a murder rampage, no police are available or willing to go to stop it, and a court begins prosecuting the accused. In this analogy, of course, the court is independant of the police and will prosecute irrespective of the presence of the police or the feasibility of actually capturing the accused.

Your comments on the UN, however, are right on. The Security Council is generally handcuffed when member states fail to volunteer troops or money to create a peacekeeping force to enter a situation like Sudan. The UN is only as strong as the resolve of its members, and the resolve of the members in this case has proven tenuous at best.

How, then, is the international community to prevent genocide, as is ongoing in Darfur, and occured unabated for 100 days in Rwanda in 1994?

One option is an independant UN rapid reaction force, a force of troops at the disposal of the SC and free to enter a country on their orders. This is ideal because it allows intervention without the deliberation time and pitfalls of international politics.

The second option is the system as it currently operates.

Without an independant force, the SC (and, for the most part, the international community), cannot or will not do much to stop a genocide. Eliminating the ICC is certainly not the solution. It is far worse to have no police AND no court. The ICC is by no means a replacement for troops on the ground; they serve different functions entirely.

In the analogy, it's as if the court is disbanded because the police are unavailable. That's counterproductive. If anything, the international community has built the court before it built the police, a far more desirable option than building the police before the court.

 
At 5:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If not the United Nations who?

I saw the movie Hotel Rhwanda over the weekend and the same that happened in the movie in Rhwanda is happening in Durfur.

If some major country like the United States doesn't do something then everybody involved in the decision should be thrown out of office or shot. The later seems to be the fitting punishment for turning away from a world tragedy.

Somebody do something and now!

C.P. Davis
California

 
At 5:28 PM, Blogger Miriam said...

what good will a rapid reaction force be if it is under orders from the UNSC?

 
At 5:29 PM, Blogger msimonkey said...

I suggest reading Romeo Dallaires - Shaking Hands with the Devil to really get a feel for the powerlessness and red tape involved in the UN processes. I totally agree that this is a tragedy that could be stopped or lessened. This book definitely opened up a whole new train of thought concerning the role of the UN in the global community. Told by a Force Commander on a UN led operation in Rwanda, this is a very harsh look the UN, the US and the international community at large in the face of atrocities beyond compare!

 
At 7:46 PM, Blogger KMSweet said...

While the idea of a rapid-reaction force that is under the direct command of the Security Council may sound beneficial, there are clear problems and drawbacks to the idea.

For one thing, you would be giving even more power to the Security Council, a part of the UN already viewed as elite by many nations throughout the world. The act of this body deploying and carry out military action, rapidly, in a statein fringes on that states soverignity.

Of course, I don't think that state sovreignity should be an excuse for not stopping genocide, but giving that much unchecked power to the SC opens up the possibility for abuses.

A different solution to the UN's inability to prevent humanitarian crises would be to give its military force some teeth. Rather than have the UN troops be a peacekeeping force, have its mandate be that of peace enforcement. The difference is that as peace enforcers, the UN troops can actively hunt down the militas that are killing them and the people they are supposed to protect. In the past, it seemed that the UN troops would spend most of their time in their fortified compounds and would not be a potent force for change in the region.

The UN mission in Congo seems to be more of a peace enforcing mission, and so far it looks like the change in tactics is working.

 
At 8:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A rapid reaction force could do an enormous amount of good if under the command of the SC. In Rwanda, UNAMIR (U.N. Assistance Mission in Rwanda) troops numbered only about 1200 (I think) and had a mandate so limited it could barely justify firing even if fired upon. Suppose, however, that the SC sent 5000 troops (as Dallaire wanted) to Rwanda the day the genocide started. It is likely that the entire episode could have been stopped before even a few people were killed. In the world of international politics, however, the genocide was over before the SC (especially the US and France) could even formulate a reasonable response.

A rapid reaction force could enter a country immediately and stabilize a volatile situation before it explodes. That would give the UN member states time to formulate a more permanent response, without sacrificing the effect of an immediate response.

In addition, there is no reason to believe that a rapid reaction force will be received any worse than any other UN peacekeeping operation. Also, the SC seems to be headed for reform, with a reshuffling of membership to reflect current geopolitical realities (not 1945 ones).

Remember, the UN is nothing to fear. It is nothing more than a servant to its member states. The SC, however, could be a remarkably effective tool to prevent gross violation of humanitarian law.

 
At 8:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A rapid reaction force could do an enormous amount of good if under the command of the SC. In Rwanda, UNAMIR (U.N. Assistance Mission in Rwanda) troops numbered only about 1200 (I think) and had a mandate so limited it could barely justify firing even if fired upon. Suppose, however, that the SC sent 5000 troops (as Dallaire wanted) to Rwanda the day the genocide started. It is likely that the entire episode could have been stopped before even a few people were killed. In the world of international politics, however, the genocide was over before the SC (especially the US and France) could even formulate a reasonable response.

A rapid reaction force could enter a country immediately and stabilize a volatile situation before it explodes. That would give the UN member states time to formulate a more permanent response, without sacrificing the effect of an immediate response.

In addition, there is no reason to believe that a rapid reaction force will be received any worse than any other UN peacekeeping operation. Also, the SC seems to be headed for reform, with a reshuffling of membership to reflect current geopolitical realities (not 1945 ones).

Remember, the UN is nothing to fear. It is nothing more than a servant to its member states. The SC, however, could be a remarkably effective tool to prevent gross violation of humanitarian law.

 
At 9:51 PM, Blogger Miriam said...

I still want to hear comment from those willing to address the basic question that I posed earlier - i.e. - How will a rapid reaction force be any use if it is under the control of the UNSC? A chain is only as strong as its weakest link - the UNSC is hobbled by the fact that any of the P5 (veto-wielding states) can stymie any action - and when they do take action, which is rarely, it is often too little and too late. Saying what a good idea a rapid reaction force is is like saying how good a hammer you have - when its just sitting on a table with noone willing to use it. I am stating this not to make a debate point, but rather b/c I actually want wikified (iterative) reaction from those reading this.

 
At 10:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry this is so difficult to understand. The SC cannot properly address today's peacekeeping needs for three reasons: (1) the SC cannot act fast enough to intervene early in a crisis; (2) member states (or a UN-commanded mission) cannot train troops fast enough to intervene early; and (3) the members of the SC are politically unwilling to commit troops, equipment or money from their home countries.

A rapid reaction force addresses all three: the force is available for deployment within days, it is already trained and the political will currently required to commit troops, equipment and money becomes unnecessary because the force is already in place.

Currently, deployment is the end result of much political manuvering and military planning. That explains why the SC has such a poor record of humanitarian intervention. With a rapid reaction force, the deployment (and military logistics) become the primary consideration, not the end result of months or years of international and domestic politicking.

 
At 8:02 AM, Blogger Miriam said...

Are you suggesting a rapid reaction force would be able to be deployed without the approval of the Security Council? I doubt it. So the existence of a force would not prevent the debate and delay (or veto)of the council. Even if a trigger mechanism was put in place, they could dicker over whether the terms of the trigger had been met...

 
At 8:41 PM, Blogger KMSweet said...

While I think the IDEA of a rapid-reaction force is a great one, it presumes that contributing states have a higher level of military capability than is present today. You're right: many of the P5 do not want to commit troops to the rapid reaction force. Since this is the case, who exactly will make up this force?

The US certainly will not, as is the case with China and Russia. French leaders seem to flirt with political suicide everytime they deploy their troops, so they are out of the question. That leaves Britain. Their highly capable military is stretched thin as it is, so they would probably be out of the picture.

So you have a situation where the strongest militaries on the planet are not willing or incapable to contribute forces. Taking into consideration the nature of the RRF's mission, how can the UN raise this army from mostly third-world countries?

 
At 12:53 AM, Blogger Miriam said...

Okay - so I'm still going to say that the major issue from my perspective is not how to create the army, but how to create the will to utilize it - and I would like to hear the opinions of others on this specific issue...

 
At 9:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually I think having a will to want to utilize forces and really putting it into practice are two tough issues to tackle. I suppose the reason why genocide has faced such lukewarm response from international bodies is because it is not like Israel-Lebanon conflict where innoncent civilians of the opposite side are killed, but rather this is an internal conflict. UN could interfere in the former because innocent people from both sides were killed by the other country's troops, but for genocide, it is somewhat like suicide. People are killing each other and they come from the same country, so it's hard to put a real stop to that because it's like a parent disciplining their child. Of course this is a horrible analogy but it's along that line.

 

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