7.17.2011

Roadblocks: China and Russia

Source: Your BD News
UN Security Council: Too Much Power in Too Few Hands?
The UN Security Council, which is made up of five permanent member states (The US, UK, France, Russia, and China), decide if a country can intervene into another. Each member state has their own self-interests at mind, which poses a significant threat to R2P.

Advocates for state sovereignty, like China and Russia, argue that R2P is a breach of that sovereignty. Both nations have reason to be against R2P; China is in “utter rejection” of anything under the pretense of “humanitarian intervention” and Russia is fearful because it could “become a target of an intervention in Chechnya for human protection purposes”.1 Russia, Cuba, Egypt, Myannmar, Algeria, Russia, and China are known to be outspoken opponents to R2P who view it "as a trick by the West to impose its values"2 in the developing world.

The ICISS report on the Responsibility to Protect addresses the issue of the veto power of the Permanent Five in the Security Council, and notes its flaws. First, the report addresses the questionable legitimacy of the Security Council. Made up of three Western nations (US, UK, and France) and two Eastern nations (Russia and China), the Security Council lacks representation from the global south. Africa, South America, and the Middle East are not represented in the Permanent Five, which poses a problem for the execution of R2P. If one of the Permanent Five vetoes a resolution that would call for R2P intervention, then the resolution will not pass. With their self-interests almost always in mind, it is clear why this is a problem. Member states of the Permanent Five could act outside the jurisdiction of the Security Council; however, since they all enjoy the power afforded to them through the Security Council, it is unlikely that any will do that in the near future.

I understand the need for the Security Council, but I see major flaws that need to be rectified, and first is the power given to each of the Permanent Members and the lack of representation within the Security Council as well. I recognize that there needs to be a voting body when it comes to deciding whether a conflict has grounds for intervention through R2P, but this current situation is clearly not working well enough. In the coming section I discuss the failure of R2P to intervene in Sudan and further discuss the role that China plays in vetoing action.

References 
1 MacFarlane, S. Neil, Carolin J. Thieking, and Thomas G. Weiss. "The Responsibility to Protect : Is Anyone Interested in Humanitarian Intervention?." Third World Quarterly. 25.5 (2004): 977-992. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 2 July 2011.

2 "The UN and Humanitarian Intervention: To Protect Sovereignty, or to Protect Lives? The Economist." The Economist. 15 May 2008. Web. 17 July 2011. 

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