The UN and humanitarian intervention
To protect sovereignty, or to protect lives?
May 15th 2008
From The Economist print edition
The new notion of global responsibility to alleviate suffering has struggled to win acceptance—and Myanmar will not be the place where it comes of age
Illustration by David Simonds
“IT WOULD only take half an hour for the French boats and French helicopters to reach the disaster area.” Those were the wistful words uttered by Bernard Kouchner, France’s foreign minister, as his country’s diplomats at the United Nations vainly argued that aid might have to be “imposed” on Myanmar if the military regime refused to co-operate.
Even as he spoke, diplomats from China, Vietnam, South Africa and Russia were mocking his idea that the “responsibility to protect” (a new concept in global affairs, implying that saving human lives might in some extreme circumstances override sovereignty) could be invoked in the case of Myanmar’s cyclone. China noted acidly that the idea had not been cited in 2003 when France suffered a deadly heatwave.
David Miliband, Britain’s foreign secretary, reignited the debate on M ay 13th. Challenged by a radio interviewer to say whether the new concept (designed to deal with crimes like genocide or ethnic cleansing) could also apply to natural disasters, he replied: “It certainly could, and we have been absolutely clear…that all instruments of the UN should be available.” But nobody expects Britain, France or any other country to fight its way into Myanmar. As Mr Miliband observed, “the regime has 400,000 troops in uniform.” For ordinary people, unfamiliar with the UN’s arcane workings, it looks rather depressing. Will there ever be a good moment to cite the notion of a responsibility to protect—unanimously adopted by more than 150 states at the UN World Summit in 2005—as Mr Kouchner is now suggesting?
5月13号，英国外交大臣米利班德重燃战 火。一个电台记者向他问道新概念（旨在应对种族屠杀和清洗）是否也适用于自然灾害，他重申“当然，我们都非常清楚……联合国的所有手段都是适用的。”但是 没人指望英国，法国或是其他国家能强行进入缅甸。正如米利班德的观察，“这个政权有40万军队。”对于并不熟悉联合国复杂参与的普通老百姓来说，这个概念 实在让人郁闷。150多个国家在2005年的联合国世界峰会上一致接受保护责任的概念，法国外长现在也正是这样建议的，那什么时候才是引用这一概念的合适 时机呢？
The tortuous development of that concept is a tale close to the French minister’s heart. As a young doctor, he saw the horrors of the Biafran famine triggered by Nigeria’s civil war. Soon afterwards he co-founded Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and became a leading supporter of the “right of humanitarian intervention” in cases where governments fail their own people.
“保护责任”概念的发展充满曲折，堪称传 奇，并且深受法国外长库什内喜爱。当他还是一个年轻的医生时，他目睹了由尼日利亚内战引发的比拉甫（地名）恐怖饥荒。不久之后，他创立了无国界医生组织， 并且成为“人道主义干预权利”的主要支持者，该项“权利”主张当政府让民众失望时，外部世界有权进行人道主义干预。
What Mr Kouchner was proposing sounded, in its stronger versions, like a revolution in global affairs—overturning the 1648 treaty of Westphalia, which upheld the right of sovereign states to act freely within their own borders. The UN Charter of 1945 also upholds the Westphalia principles, by stating in article 2(7), that “nothing should authorise intervention in matters essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state.” But Chapter VII does entitle the Security Council to take action in cases of a “threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression”。
在翻译得较为强硬的版本中，库什内的提议听起来像是要在国际事务中进行一场革命——推翻1648年的威斯特伐利亚 条约，该条约确认主权国家在其边界内有至高无上，自由行动的权利。1945年联合国宪章也确认了威斯特伐利亚原则，宪章第二条第七款说“不应干涉在本质上 属于任何国家国内管辖之事件”，但是第七章又赋予安理会采取行动制止“对和平的威胁，和平的破坏和侵略行为”的权力。
Tension between those two principles—sovereignty versus intervention—has been palpable for decades. Some countries stress the enforcement powers laid down by Chapter VII. Others (mostly in the poor world) insist that state sovereignty always trumps, even in humanitarian emergencies.
In practice, since the end of the cold war the UN has been intervening more often in conflicts within (as opposed to between) states. Sometimes it has happened with, and sometimes without, the consent of the governments concerned.
In 1999 Tony Blair became the first world leader to assert a moral right to “get actively involved in other people’s conflicts”—even without leave from the Security Council—if it was the only way to stop dire suffering. Speaking in Chicago after NATO’s war over Kosovo, which the Security Council had declined to endorse, Britain’s then prime minister made the case for “just war, based not on territorial ambitions, but on values”.
Four years later, an American-led coalition invaded Iraq, using somewhat similar rhetoric about the need to overthrow a dangerous tyrant for the good of everyone. Although it wasn’t in any formal or legal sense a test case for responsibility to protect, many people felt that the disastrous outcome in Iraq discredited the entire idea of intervention for “altruistic” purposes.
Less of a right, more of a duty
Meanwhile, Canada had set up an International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, under the chairmanship of Gareth Evans, a former Australian foreign minister, and Mohamed Sahnoun, a former Algerian diplomat. In their report, published in 2001, it was they who first suggested changing the discretionary “right to intervene” into a more muscular “responsibility to protect”, or R2P as it is known in diplomatic jargon. Under it, the “international community” (in effect the UN) would be placed under an actual obligation to take, if necessary, coercive action to protect people at risk of grave harm, in accordance with clear criteria.
与此同时，加拿大已经发起建立了关于干预和国家主权事务的国际委员会，由澳大利 亚前外长Gareth Evans和阿尔及利亚前外交官Mohamed Sahnoun共同出任主席。正是他们在2001年发表的报告中第一次建议用更强硬的“保护责任”这个词汇替代“保护权利”，这正是外交术语中的R2P（ responsibility to protect）。此概念主张“国际社会”（实行中指联合国）应承担起实际责任，如果有必要，应采取强制措施保护面临严重灾难风险的人民，同时采取强制行 动的标准要清晰具体。
Taken up by a High-Level Panel on UN reform in 2004 and adopted by Kofi Annan, then UN secretary-general, the principle survived the haggling in the run-up to the 2005 World Summit to squeeze its way into the final “Outcome Document”, though shorn of criteria. But it was never intended to cope with the aftermath of natural disasters or even “ordinary” human-rights violations. It was to be invoked only for genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity.
2004年关于联合国改革的高阶会议和当时的联合国秘书长安南都采纳了这个原则。虽然缺乏具体的实行标准，这 个原则还是在2005年世界峰会的讨价还价中幸存下来，成功地杀出一条血路并被写入最终的“成果文件”。但是“保护责任”原则原本不是用来应对自然灾害的 后果或是“普通的”侵犯人权事件的。这个原则只适用于种族屠杀，战争犯罪，种族清洗或是反人类罪。
From the start, the idea was viewed by the developing world as a trick by the West to impose its values. Cuba, Egypt, Russia, Algeria and Myanmar have been vocal opponents. They have been leading a determined effort to obstruct the formal appointment of Edward Luck, a professor at Columbia University, as a special UN adviser on the issue. He still has no salary, no real title and no UN office.
从一开始，这个观点就被发展中国家视作西方强行推行其价值观的 伎俩。古巴，俄罗斯，埃及和缅甸已发出反对声音。他们发起阻挠正式任命Edward Luck(哥伦比亚大学教授)为联合国关于“国际干预与国家主权”问题的特别顾问。Edward Luck至今仍没有薪水，没有真正的职位，没有办公室。
Others, this time in the West, are asking whether responsibility to protect will ever be more than an empty slogan. When it came to it, who would be willing to intervene? How could such action ever get past all five of the Security Council’s veto-wielding powers? Besides, as a senior UN official laments, the Iraq fiasco has “poisoned this well”. It showed that an armed intervention, even if its declared aims are benign, can set off a whole chain of terrible consequences.
同时西方国家在质疑“保护责任”能不能不只是 个口号。如果真的付诸实践了，谁会乐于干预？此类行动如何越过安理会五常的否决？另外作为联合国官方的一大痛楚，伊拉克的惨败已经“严重毒化了这一概 念”。伊拉克的例子表明，武装干预会引发一系列严重后果，即使宣称的动机是好的。
“It never takes much more than a few days around the corridors and meeting rooms of the UN in New York to have your latest dose of optimism beaten out of you,” Mr Evans moaned recently. But he and other proponents of responsibility to protect have started to fight back, seeking to correct “misconceptions” over the concept. It’s not meant to be a grand new doctrine or policy, they insist, rather a modest “strategy” for protecting the defenceless.
“联 合国走廊和会议室的讨价还价用不了几天时间就能把你最后的一点乐观情绪击碎。”Evans最近这样抱怨道。但是他和其他“保护责任”支持者已经开始反击， 试图修正人们对这一观念的“误解”。他们坚持，“保护责任”并不意味着一个全新的学说或政策诞生，而只是一个试图保护无助百姓的温和“战略”。
It is not only about military intervention, they add, but also prevention: spotting situations that could result in mass atrocities. Political, diplomatic, legal and economic measures should be tried before any resort to arms. Not every conflict, potential conflict, or gross abuse of rights should prompt application of the rule—only the worst cases. And even when all non-military means have failed, armed intervention may still not be the right answer. The consequences must be weighed to ensure that it will not do more harm than good to the people it seeks to protect.
他们补充道，军事干预并不是全部，还要有预防措施，包括：准确定位可能发生大规模灾难的地方；在寻求武力解决之前，要尝试 政治，外交，法律和经济等各种手段。并非每一场现实的或潜在的冲突，或是大规模侵犯人权事件都应及时适用这一法则，只有那些最严重的事件才适用。而且即使 所有非军事措施都不奏效，武装干预也不一定是解决之道，应该充分考虑到后果以确保干预给寻求帮助的人们带来的好处多于坏处。
Responsibility to protect is not yet dead, but it is fragile. Supporters point to the power-sharing deal that stopped Kenya’s civil war in February as the concept’s first success. The fact that the UN, in principle, retains the right to impose its will by force may have made it easier for the world body to broker a settlement.
Perhaps. But the idea will need some clearer successes than that if it is going to survive. And Myanmar, apparently, is not going to be one of them.