Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Responsibility to Protect | Think Africa Press

7: The Responsibility to Protect | Think Africa Press

Africa has a long history of being 'protected' by the West. And today, with the precipitous rise of the so-called Responsibility to Protect (R2P), it appears that intervention in the name of protecting Africa has returned to the centre of Western concern – or regained its utility. Three-quarters of the crises in which R2P has been invoked or applied have been in Africa[1], and the Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on R2P announced that “the responsibility to protect really came from Africa and the African experience”[2]. Africa also provided the military testing ground for R2P and following foreign military intervention in Libya in 2011, according to Ramesh Thakur, “R2P is closer to being solidified as an actionable norm”[3].
R2P’s privileged application in Africa bears comparison to the continent's experience with the International Criminal Court (ICC). Critics have argued that the Court targets Africa because it can operate there in an accountability-free zone, able to intervene in ongoing conflicts, take sides in civil wars, scuttle amnesties and peace processes, or align itself with US military forces – all without being held responsible for the consequences of its actions. But at least with the ICC, there is a concrete institution – prosecutors and judges who make statements and decisions that can be critiqued on legal, political, or moral grounds. With R2P, however, even this modicum of publicity and formalisation is absent. And this makes its expanding use in Africa all the more dangerous...
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