By Alex Wilde for The Washington Post
Following yesterday’s slow start, the members of the ILC have decided to restrict the debate to key concepts instead of juggling multiple issues at once. This is highly welcome, as it allows complex ideas to be unpackaged in a manner conducive towards a thorough report.
The fundamental norm of ‘Responsibility to Protect’ faces little disagreement by delegates. The criteria supporting the principle outlined in Articles 136 and 137 of the World Summit Outcome 2005 received equal support. Delegate 2 stated in an interview with this journalist that the threshold contained within these Articles is sufficient as they limit grounds for intervention to extreme cases (i.e. genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, etc). The WSO criteria should be accepted without alteration as inclusion of new criteria could result in arbitrary reliance on principles to pursue intervention on grounds that may not necessarily be humanitarian. These sentiments were echoed by the majority of delegates during debate.
On the ever-present issue of state sovereignty, all delegates agreed on the basic point that sovereignty should be treated as supreme under the UN Charter, however the operation of R2P effectively prioritises the need to address human rights abuse over matters of state concern. Discussions were framed in purely legalistic terms; the positions of humans themselves have only been referenced fleetingly.
Finally, discussions on the conduct of military intervention are underway with a variety of opinions expressed. Delegate 5 is of the firm opinion that their needs to be a categorisation of cases that replicates the WSO criteria in the final report. When asked whether intervention could be conducted to prevent escalation of potential conflict, the Delegate warned that pre-emptive action potentially falls outside of UN Security Council powers outlined under Ch VII of the UN Charter. When further questioned on the ability of the UNSC to carry out intervention on the basis of its poor record, the Delegate understood such criticism, though she believed questions of UNSC effectiveness should not be addressed during this session.
Delegate 7 in response suggested intervention by regional bodies as an alternative to relying on the UNSC to carry out such operations, citing the 1990s Kosovo intervention by NATO as an example. Delegate 5 quickly delivered a rebuttal, claiming the NATO intervention to be illegal and not permitted under the international legal framework. If regional organisations were to play a role, they would have a limited position under the framework, she claimed.Discussions continue with many more issues left to resolve.