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Armed intervention should be LAST resort: India

September 06, 2012 11:56 IST

Armed intervention should be a "measure of last resort" in any conflict-plagued nation, India has said, stressing that the responsibility to protect should primarily focus on political engagement with all parties and should not be pursued with an objective of regime change.

Addressing an informal dialogue of the United Nations General Assembly on the Secretary General's report on the 'Responsibility to Protect', India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said the "implementation of R2P requires an effective discharge of responsibility and obligations by States under the UN Charter in a balanced and impartial manner. This requires reform of the Security Council so that it takes into account the contemporary realities".

He said R2P should start with an early political engagement with the parties concerned, with sufficient time being given to see that the non-coercive measures employed are bringing desired results.

Puri said only when an "honest and serious" attempt at pacific settlement fails should the international community, acting under the United Nations, respond with coercive measures that are calibrated and gradual.

"Armed intervention should be a measure of last resort when everything else has failed. Selectivity must be avoided at all cost and the principle must be applied uniformly to all parties to a conflict," he said.

He added that in any conflict situation, whenever the use of "all necessary means" is authorised, there must be provisions in the resolution for monitoring and reporting mechanisms so that the principles of neutrality, impartiality and proportionality is ensured.

He said the principle of responsibility while protecting is equally important and if R2P is to regain the respect of the international community, it has to be anchored in the concept of RwP.

Underlining the three key pillars of R2P, Puri said the principle cannot be used to address all social evils, including violations of human rights and humanitarian law. Instead, it should be confined to the four identified crimes of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.

He said the second pillar is that default response of the international community cannot be coercive measures while the third concept is that R2P cannot be seen as a pretext for
humanitarian intervention, "a concept riddled with inconsistencies and driven by selfish motives on the part of the developed nations".

"R2P cannot turn out to be a tool legitimising big power intervention on the pretext of protecting populations from the violations of human rights and humanitarian law. It cannot be seen as codifying a system of coercion, providing a tool in the hands of powerful governments to judge weaker states, and encourage regime change primarily on political considerations," Puri said.

Referring to the UN resolution on Libya, Puri said almost all aspects of the resolution, namely pursuit of ceasefire, arms embargo, and no-fly zone, were violated not to protect civilians... but to change the regime.

"It is the pursuit of the objective of regime change that generated a great deal of unease among a number of us who support action by the international community, anchored in the United Nations," he said.

He said the secretary general's report argues that neither of the three pillars can be treated as standalone options, nor can they be sequenced.

"In our view, the three pillars cannot be mixed, and the support aspect, including the capacity building, should take precedence over the response aspect".

"The time has now come to look at both sides of the coin. Greater focus and further understanding is required on the manner in which R2P can be implemented," Puri said.

A non-judicious application of Pillar III, which is that R2P cannot be seen as a pretext for humanitarian intervention, would risk R2P being applied selectively and in an arbitrary manner for extraneous reasons to achieve certain political objectives.

Yoshita Singh
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