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The Arab League and RtoP

GB Geo-Blog

The Arab League and RtoP

Amr Moussa, the Secretary General of the Arab League announced that his organization was prepared to support an UN Security Council Resolution setting up a no-fly zone over Libya. This is an historic decision by this regional body, prompted clearly as Amr Moussa has said to stop the killing of innocent civilians by the Gadhafi regime.

The question is: Will this important step be sufficient? Will it overcome the dithering and delay of Western leaders, who have been dragging their feet with all kinds of excuses of why it won’t work, the most important of which was that there would have to be regional buy in to the action?

Well now that’s been had, the hand wringing continues, showing a distinct lack of leadership from the governments of Europe and North America who are the only ones who really have the capacity to make it work.

Amr Moussa, however has caught the essence of the issue- it is to save people from being massacred by their own government, a precept advanced before in this blog as the principle of responsibility to protect (RtoP), that is when a government cannot or will not protect its people, or is itself the predator, then the international community must assume the responsibility to protect. It should come as no surprise that Amr Moussa, an experienced and pragmatic diplomat understands the challenge. He served as one of the foreign ministers that served on the Advisory Council of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, the body that gave expression to the RtoP concept.

It is just too bad that other influential leaders haven’t had the same opportunity that Amr Moussa has had in understanding how crucial it is to exercise the responsibility to protect innocent civilians being murdered by their own state whose primary function is to protect them. One can only hope that this bold move by the Arab League might prompt a re-set of thinking in Western Capitals.

The opinions expressed in this blog are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of Global Brief or the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs.


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