Regarding the current desperate situation in Syria, an often-heard question is, “Why isn’t the United Nations doing anything about this crisis?” by which most people mean UN-authorized military strikes. Even though the United Nations charter recognizes as preeminent the sovereignty of each nation, member states can take strong action to intervene in order to protect the lives of citizens who are being attacked by their own governments.
Diplomats are seeing the legal and moral dimensions of protecting civilians even when it means stepping into the internal affairs of other countries. However, such significant action against a member state is taken only as a last resort and only after repeated attempts at appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian, and other peaceful means have failed. This understanding follows from the 2005 UN adoption of the Responsibility to Protect Resolution to assist the international community in preventing genocide.
Three pillars make up this Resolution:
- Pillar One stresses that Member States have the primary responsibility to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
- Pillar Two addresses the commitment of the international community to provide assistance to Member States in building capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and to assist those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out.
- Pillar Three focuses on the responsibility of the international community to take timely and decisive action to prevent and halt genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity when a Member State is manifestly failing to protect its population.
To read an opinion piece about Prevention and Protection, go to: http://tmblr.co/ZO51uurFCKLa