Thursday, April 27, 2006

Surprise, Surprise!! Sudan Rejects UN Peacekeepers in Darfur

To what I can only hope is no one's surprise, Sudan today rejected a UN request to deploy a UN peacekeeping force into Darfur, where violence has claimed 100,000 lives and displaced more than 2 million people over the last three years. The UN's second highest-ranking official for peacekeeping, Hedi Annabi, announced the rejection today, and stated, according to the Washington Post that "Sudan's opposition could doom U.N. peacekeeping plans. [Annabi] suggested the council look outside the United Nations for troops if it decides to intervene in Darfur without an invitation from the government."

This last statement from Annabi is troublesome. Not the sentiment itself, which I agree with, but the UN admitting it. As I have blogged about numerous time, including here, the UN is, as demonstrated in this case, hamstrung in its desire to prevent crimes against humanity by its commitment to sovereignty. The UN was willing to wink at NATO's intervention in Kosovo, but was displeased by the US invasion of Iraq; but you can't have it both ways. Either states can take the law into their own hands or they can't. If the UN continues to sanction interventions outside of the framework of international law, then it can't be upset if that power gets used for policies with which the UN disagrees.

So now the question is: Where to go from here? Will the UN and the New York Times really be supportive when and if (and it is a big if) the US and/or NATO decides to violate international law and Sudan's sovereignty by intervening in Darfur? Annabi argued that "such a mission is better undertaken by means other than a U.N. operation." President Bush has already secured NATO approval to attach observers to the in-place African Union peacekeepers (there's an article in last month's Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists about the AU mission, claiming that it is effective, but ultimately too small), but it will take more than observers to stop the slaughter and crimes. Let's hope that the US continues to ignore international law and does what is right and just.

8 comments:

Patrick S. O'Donnell said...

Seth,

No argument this time 'round. I simply want to suggest to those fortunate enough to have the time for leisurely reading that they might be interested in these treatments on the subject of humanitarian intervention: Holzgrefe, J.L. and Robert O. Keohane, eds. Humanitarian Intervention: Ethical, Legal, and Political Dilemmas (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003), and Jokic, Aleksander, ed. Humanitarian Intervention: Moral and Philosophical Issues (Toronto: Broadview Press, 2003).

Patrick S. O'Donnell said...
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Patrick S. O'Donnell said...

Seth,

I don't think we need understand intervention by a country like the US or 'coalition of the willing' (NATO sponsored, etc.) as a violation of international law insofar as the humanitarian duty to intervene in Darfur could fall within 'obligations erga omnes,' that is, insofar as genocide is a violation of a jus cogens norm, states can find justification for intervention owing to an obligation erga omnes (cf. Barcelona Traction case of ICJ). Erga omnes obligations are grounded in adherence to a normative system as such (trumping sovereignty claims), and 'one element central to such obligations is that they imply a corresponding or secondary right of every other state bound by the same customary or conventional norms to react to a violation of the primary norms [prevention as well as punishment]. In exercising this secondary right, states act not in the defence of individual or state interests, but rather in the name of the community as a whole' (Rene Provost, International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, 2002; cf. Maurizio Ragazzi, The Concept of International Obligations Erga Omnes, 1997). [diacritics and italicization unavailable]

Patrick S. O'Donnell said...

In his NYRB (Feb. 9, 2006) essay, 'Genocide in Slow Motion,' Nicholas Kristof writes that, 'In the case of Darfur, the solution is not to send American ground troops; in my judgment, that would make things worse by allowing Khartoum to rally nationalistic support against the American infidel crusaders. But greater security is essential, and the African Union troops that have been sent to Darfur are inadequate to the task of providing it. The most feasible option is to convert them into a "blue-hat" UN force and add to them UN and NATO forces. The US could easily enforce a no-fly zone in Darfur by using the nearby Chadian air base in Abeché. Then it could make a strong effort to arrange for tribal conferences—the traditional method of conflict settlement in Darfur—and there is reason to hope that such conferences could work to achieve peace. The Arab tribes have been hurt by the war as well, and the tribal elders are much more willing to negotiate than the Sudan government and the rebel leaders who are the parties to the current peace negotiations.

Flint and de Waal give a telling account of the chief of the Baggara Rizeigat Arabs, a seventy-year-old hereditary leader who has kept his huge tribe out of the war and who is quietly advocating peace—as well as protecting non-Arabs in his territory. It would help enormously if President Bush and Kofi Annan would jointly choose a prominent envoy, like Colin Powell or James Baker, who would work with chieftains like the head of the Baggara Rizeigat to achieve peace in Darfur. Such an initiative is the best hope we have for peace.'

Seth Weinberger said...

Putting your hope in the UN is about the same as hoping that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny will come to the rescue of Darfur. Note that Russia and China abstained from the recent vote to impose sanctions on 4 individuals from Sudan. The absention signals, to me, that both were throwing a bone to the US because the stakes were low in this specific case. It's most likely that either, if not both, would veto any expanded UN role in Darfur.

As your earlier post about viewing humanitarian intervention as an erga omnes obligation; fine, but then you can't be upset when the US cites Iraqi violations of numerous resolutions as justification for an extra-legal intervention as well. Either you adhere to procedural rules, or you don't. If you begin to put discretion in the hands of individual states or coalitions of states, procedural compliance must necessarily fall by the wayside.

Patrick said...

Seth,

The US clearly did not exhaust the procedural rules available in the case of Iraq, given the comments of the weapons inspectors, among others well-positioned to pronounce on such matters. Moreover, the avowed reasons for the intervention in this case were built on lies (and rather belated in the case of the Kurds). I think you're absolutely right about putting discretion in the hands of individual states or coalitions of states, AS IN THE CASE OF IRAQ! Intervention in the affairs of non-democratic regimes is of a different order than humanitarian intervention in the case of genocide: the former presents clear-cut problems having to do with 'means-ends' calculations and considerations. It is quite controversial to claim that the values, principles and practices of democratic theory and entrenchment of respect for human rights can be attained by means and methods that are largely coercive, illiberal and violent. Short of military intervention, there are any number of things democratic states can do to prompt a movement toward democratic practices. Humanitarian intervention in the case of genocide has a more clear-cut rationale analogous to a 'necessity defense' in civil disobedience. Or, alternatively, we might look at this in light of a Gandhian conception of the means-ends relationship, here outlined by the nonpareil scholar of his moral and political philosophy, Raghavan Iyer:

'1. It is enough to know the means. Means and ends are convertible terms.
2. We always have control over the means, but not over the end.
3. Our progress toward the goal will be in exact proportion to the purity of our means.
4. Instead of saying that means are after all means, we should affirm that means are after alll everything. As the means so the end.'

And it's obvious in the latter case that there are no plausible alternatives to immediate humanitarian intervention. Obligations erga omnes are bound up with jus cogens norms, and the sort of intervention led by the US in Iraq did not have to do with the violation of a jus cogens norm (as did, say, the earlier invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, a clear case of aggression).

Seth Weinberger said...

Patrick:

Your argument that humanitarian intervention is easier to justify is purely based on your personal moral beliefs, and have no basis in international law. There is no logical theoretical distinction between claiming that genocide brings an imperative for intervention but brutal repression does not. Both are modern liberal expressions of justice, and both are violations of international law as codified in the UN. Trying to impose your understanding of Gandhian non-violence is just as idiosyncratic. What you are stating is that you want the international community and individual states to adhere to your interpretations of justice when considering intervention. As I have been saying repeatedly, you cannot have it both ways.

Patrick said...

I won't try to explain myself further except to say I'm not trying to IMPOSE my moral beliefs on anyone, and even more so in the case of my understanding of Gandhian nonviolence (which I was not discussing). In so far as moral arguments are universalizable, they cannot be reduced to idiosyncratic proprietary claims: that's to misstate or misunderstand the nature of moral claims and argumentation (mine is not an emotivist argument). The conception of justice I have in mind is in part concretized in, assumed by, and approached in some measure with international law as codified in the UN. That is to say, there are conceptual and practical links between this conception of justice and the laws and norms promulagated in UN documents and international law.

And I simply suggested that we consider what Gandhi was saying here might help us clarify matters, to see things in a different light, to gain a new perspective: you're perfectly free to argue against it, ignore it, trivialize it, etc., but please don't use the suggestion to make an ad hominem accusation (e.g., that I'm 'trying to impose [my] understanding of Gandhian nonviolence'; in any case, my understanding of such was not in evidence here, and I'm not quite sure how one goes about 'imposing' one's beliefs other than by taking advantage of an asymmetrical power relation, which I'm hardly doing here). I don't think I've accused you of trying to 'impose' your moral and idiosyncratic beliefs on me....