Responsibility to Protect
Following the mass killings in Rwanda and the international communities’ failure to act, the UN formulated a new doctrine called Responsibility to Protect (R2P). Its key provision is “Sovereignty no longer exclusively protects states from foreign interference.” Libya is a perfect example of R2P gone haywire. There were hyperbolic reports of atrocities, bloodbaths and massacres. The U.S. invoked R2P. A UN resolution to protect civilians was passed and its authority almost immediately exceeded. NATO embarked on a heavy bombing campaign. R2P quickly morphed into regime change. Qaddafi was assassinated. Hillary Clinton joked, “We came, we saw, he died.” Cheers could be heard in the corridors of power in the West. Today, Libya is a broken, devastated country. R2P, if it is to be effective and have credibility, cannot be selectively applied. Nor can it be used as a cover for big power intervention.
Vijay Prashad is a historian and journalist. He is the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, based in Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, and India. He is also editor of LeftWord Books, based in New Delhi. Additionally, he is the chief correspondent for Globetrotter. He has written many books, including The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South and Red Star Over the Third World.