On March 20th, UNA-GB hosted a members (and friends) event at Stoddard’s Fine Food & Ale in downtown Boston. This event aimed to welcome new members to the organization through networking and foster a discussion about “The Responsibility to Protect after Libya and Syria”, led by Professor Ian Johnstone, a UNA-GB Advisory Council Member.
Ian Johnstone is a Professor of International Law at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. He has just been appointed Academic Dean of the Fletcher School, a position he will assume in July 2013. Prior to joining Fletcher in the year 2000, he worked for the United Nations, including five years in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General. He continues to serve as a regular consultant to the United Nations, including to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Political Affairs.
The discussion attempted to encapsulate the standing of coercive intervention within the framework of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) following the application of this philosophy in Libya and the opposite in respect to it in Syria from the United Nations. Professor Johnstone noted that in 2011, the UN Security Council was confronted with the dilemma of whether to authorize an intervention in Libya to prevent a possible humanitarian catastrophe. At that time Libya was confronting civilian casualties as a consequence of fights between the government and rebel forces and the international community was concerned that this problem would only escalate to a large scale of victims.
The discussion question that Professor Johnstone proposed after his introduction on the background about the Libya and Syria cases within the R2P context was: why has the UN and international community’s response to the conflict been so different and what does this tell us about the practice of the R2P doctrine within the UN? Should the UN reassess the R2P philosophy for future cases? How does the Security Council play a role within the R2P decisions?
If you are interested in networking and discussing this and other international issues, make sure to come to our future members events!