It’s Syria’s Time for Action
I have just returned from a conference in The Hague sponsored by the Aspen Institute which included a number of old friends and colleagues from the days when I was Foreign Affairs minister.
The topic of discussion was on how to breathe new life into international institutions. The concern is that regarding security, human rights, trade and environment the various international organizations, most notably the UN, were falling behind global events and not providing the place for effective action. It is a significant topic that will require more examination than we could provide it in a mere two days worth of meetings.
As you might expect, the important happenings in the Middle East and North Africa appropriately occupied a lot of our time. In a related vein, the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) (both initiatives having a good deal of Canadian engagement in their development), came in for discussion, particularly because of the active involvement of these new international tools in application in Libya.
There was a great and intense set of discussions, which is remarkable when you think that neither one would have been on the agenda or an item of interest ten years ago. It demonstrates how they are both becoming highly relevant to the world we live in.
Ultimately, what I want to point out in this piece is the necessity of bringing both the ICC and R2P into play against the Syrian government. With the most recent events in mind, more than a thousand civilian deaths have been reported, and perhaps as many as ten thousand refugees are crossing the border with Turkey. By the principles that allowed for the creation of both the ICC and R2P, this type of action by a ruler against their people is unacceptable. Assad should be indicted along with his henchmen for committing crimes against humanity along with a much tougher set of sanctions directed against him and his family. Indeed, there should be planning underway as to what kind of direct military intervention could and should be mounted when the need arises. If the UN member states are to hold fast to these principles then there has to be much stronger action by the international community. Libya is a preliminary bout compared to the actions needed in Syria and there must be a public outcry.
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.