R2P Intervention: Defining the Indefinable and Unimaginable

Source: The Velvet Rocket

Responsibility to Protect (R2P): The 2005 World Summit Outcome defines R2P as "the responsibility [for a nation] to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means".

Humanitarian Intervention: There is no legal definition of humanitarian intervention because it is more of a concept then an international statue; however, in my opinion, J.L. Holzgrefe has a decent definition of humanitarian intervention in his article Humanitarian Intervention: Ethical, Legal and Political Dilemmas, in which he explains it as "the threat or use of force across state borders by a state (or group of states) aimed at preventing or ending widespread and grave violations of the fundamental human rights of individuals other than its own citizens, without the permission of the state within whose territory force is applied".

Humanitarian Aid: The Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) defines humanitarian aid as an aim to "...prevent or relieve suffering, is accorded to victims without discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnic group, religion, sex, age, nationality or political affiliation and must not be guided by, or subject to, political considerations … humanitarian aid decisions must be taken impartially and solely according to the victims’ needs and interests … the independence and impartiality of non-governmental organizations and other humanitarian institutions in the implementation of humanitarian aid must be preserved, respected and encouraged."

Mass Atrocities: The scope of R2P that includes "'genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity".1

Ethnic Cleansing: Gareth Evans explains the complexity of the term ethnic cleansing when he states, "It can be accomplished in a number of ways, including outright killing, expulsion, acts of terror designed to encourage flight, and rape when perpetuated either as another form of terrorism or as a deliberate attempt to change the ethnic composition of the group in question".1

Genocide: The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment on the Crime of Genocide defines genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(1) Killing members of the group;
(2) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(3) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(4) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(5) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group".

War Crimes: The Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court defines war crimes as "Grave breaches" in the Geneva Convention such as:
(1) Willful killing;
(2) Torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments;
(3) Willfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health;
(4) Extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly;
(5) Compelling a prisoner of war or other protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power;
(6) Willfully depriving a prisoner of war or other protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial;
(7) Unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement;
(8) Taking hostages".

Crimes Against Humanity: The Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court defines Crimes Against Humanity as acts that are "part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:
(1) Murder;
(2) Extermination;
(3) Enslavement;
(4) Deportation or forcible transfer of population;
(5) Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law;
(6) Torture;
(7) Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;
(8) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;
(9) Enforced disappearance of persons;
(10) The crime of apartheid;
(11) Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health".

Evans, Gareth J. The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and for All. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2008. Print.


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