International community is a word that has been used by journalist and political leaders in many citations. Despite the use of the word, its true definition is still quite controversial as there still lacks a common understanding or definition of the term. According to Cambridge dictionary, the international community refers to countries of the world considered or acting together as a group. (Dictionary, 2015) Despite this meaning, in order to gain full understanding of the term it is essential to decipher the key word community. A community refers to a group of individuals that are bound by a common belief, origin or idea. Communities can be homogenous or multiracial. Ideally, we can say that an international community is a group of countries with shared vision of a better world for all people. (Un.org, 2015) In most cases it refers to the United Nations. This paper looks at the humanitarian role of the international community and the right to protect. It details out the situation under which the right to protect becomes applicable and what are the challenges facing humanitarian interventions with reference to the Middle East
The right to protects refers to the duty to prevent and halt genocide and mass atrocities. This duty primarily lies with the State; however, the international community has the right to get involved when the State is unaccountable for the welfare of their people. It is based on three pillars that are stipulated in the Outcome Document of the 2005 UN World Summit. These pillars are;
The State carries the primary responsibility for protecting populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, and their incitement
The international community has a responsibility to encourage and assist States in fulfilling this responsibility.
The international community has a responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian, and other means to protect populations from these crimes. If a State is manifestly failing to protect its populations, the international community must be prepared to take collective action to protect the populations, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. (Un.org, 2015)
It is essential to establish the legitimacy of overshadowing a States sovereignty with the intervention using military troops to protect the citizens. If it I legitimate, what circumstances would justify this course of action and how should it be carried out. In states that have just recently acquires their independence such as Palestine, it make very difficult to interfere with their sovereignty just after they have just waved their banner of national sovereignty. In such cases, interventions that start with good intentions on the part of those calling for it, the end has always been faced with severe consequences for the sovereignty of the nations, the integrity of national territory and global peace and security. This has been evident in recent interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Interventions are therefore to be sanctioned if there is concrete evidence of genocide and if measures are put in place to ensure that the great-power logic does not displace the original humanitarian intent. (Bello, 2011)
Humanitarian interventions have also resulted in creation of worse situations than the already existing ones. A good example of this is the invasion of Afghanistan by the US that took place in 2001. Owing to sympathy from the U.N and the image of the Taliban government sheltering al-Qaeda, the possibility of negations was eliminated and the US government invaded Afghanistan using Article 51 of the United Nations Charter which sanctioned retaliation in self-defense. The then administration took advantage of this opportunity to not only eliminate the al-Qaeda threat, but also to move into Afghanistan as a necessary humanitarian intervention to get rid of the Taliban government. At the end of the war, the military intervention had resulted into high level of civilian casualties. The estimated number of dead civilian was between 3,125 and 3,620, from October 7, 2001 to July 31, 2002. To make matters worse, the number of dead civilians increased to 9,579 between 2006 and 2010. Evidently, in an attempt to offer humanitarian aid, the campaign ended up creating a worse political and humanitarian situation than that under the Taliban. (Bello, 2011)
Some of the humanitarian interventions have been carried out with a hidden agenda in place. For example, US invasion of the Iraq was based on the accusation that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. However, when there were no weapons found, they supported their invasion with the importance of a change of regime: from a dictatorship to a democratic rule. Currently, Iraq is a base for the US geopolitical oil control in the Middle East. Its oil resources and wealth are not benefiting the people but rather other nations. The levels of poverty in the nation are high and the living standards low coupled to high levels of insecurity. This deteriorated state of the nation is as a result of humanitarian intervention. (Bello, 2011)
The right to protect has failed to be effected in one or more situation which demanded such humanitarian intervention by the international community. During the crisis in Gaza (27 December 2008 to n18 January 20090, for example, the escalation of violence in Gaza caused people to question the urge of the international community to urge international action to protect civilians in the conflict. The crisis led to high number of civilian casualties; in fact over 1,300 lives were claimed by the crisis. The Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, issued a statement which stated that nothing beyond basic needs such as medicine and food was allowed in Gaza nearly 5 months after the end of the conflict. Most individuals believe that crimes committed in Gaza have reached the threshold of the right to protect crime. However the responsive measure was absent yet when Libya was faced with such a similar situation in April 2011 there was a response under the right to protect.
Most Middle East Countries have different opinions on the humanitarian intervention on the basis of the right to protect. During the 2005 World Summit and before the General Assemblys 2009 Debate and 2010 Interactive Dialogue on the right to protect, different Middle Eastern government aired their opinion about the right to protect. Lebanon, united Arab Emirates and Palestine were in agreement with the humanitarian intervention on the basis of the right to protect. Qatar on the other hand appreciated what was likely to be achieved by employing the right to protect and also agreed with its basic principles but warned the international community to proceed with cautions for it was a delicate matter. However, countries such as Egypt and Pakistan opposed it mainly because they believe inn absolute sovereignty and the principle of non-intervention.
Whether it legal or not for the international community to have the right to protect depends on a variety of factors; all of which are co-dependent. First of all we have look at the situation whether they are truly demanding of intervention or they can be handled by the state government with no intervention. If the right to protect become legit, it is essential to look at how it is carried out. Close monitoring should be carried out to ensure that the sole purpose is achieved; protection of the people of the state. It is also essential to choose an intervening party that is willing to genuinely protect the people and does not have other agendas. Human life is precious, and protecting it should be the core driving force of any humanitarian interventions.
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