The Responsibility to Protect

by asdfghjkl on Février 10, 2017 - 2:36pm

The Responsibility to Protect


There is a moral dilemma in the field of international politics that questions whether or not a state that has the ability to intervene in conflicts within other states has the responsibility to intervene and does that change when these conflicts involve the abuse of human rights. Here, we will specifically be looking at military intervention. Going against relativism, I will be arguing that nations do indeed have a responsibility to intervene however, only when human rights are in jeopardy.

This dilemma of a responsibility to protect on the behalf of others often arises in situations of armed conflict. Historically there have been a few cases of highly controversial interventions, such as NATO’s intervention in Yugoslavia or the lack of intervention in Rwanda. Proponents of relativism would argue that as outsiders to both of these cultures we have no right to decide what ideas, values, or practices are right or wrong. Furthermore, we have no right to impose our values and ideas on these foreign cultures through the force of military intervention. They argue one culture or cultural practice cannot be objectively better than another from a different place, time, or people. This sort of thinking makes sense in some cases, however, it cannot apply to everything.

Once it becomes obvious that a gross abuse of human rights is taking place I believe that that is when foreign intervention is required. Foreign military intervention is important because sometimes it is the only way a marginalized group of people can be saved from an atrocity. This was the case in Rwanda, where government supported genocide meant that people could not count on the police or the military to insure their safety because they were the ones killing. In this case, events in Somalia before the Rwandan genocide made the U.S. very apprehensive in intervening in another African conflict1. Also, early on in the genocide, the killing of 10 Belgian peacekeepers made the Belgians apprehensive as well1. The fact that the U.S. was unwilling to intervene meant that many other countries were not comfortable with the idea either. In retrospect it is clear that foreign intervention was greatly needed in Rwanda. This will play a large role in future decision-making when further conflicts arise.

Once we have decided that, in some cases, foreign intervention is absolutely necessary, the question that arises is to whom does this responsibility fall? This is another complicated moral dilemma, one that I will save for the next newsactivist assignment.









































Works Cited


1.         Winfield, Nicole. "Global Policy Forum." UN Failed Rwanda. Associated Press/ Nando Media, 16 Dec. 1999. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.


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