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Interesting Findings And World Unfolding Through My Eyes.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

World View

The "responsibility to protect" peoples in distress has the support of global public opinion, finds new research. What does that mean for crisis-areas such as Darfur? Gareth Evans & Andrew Stroehlein of the International Crisis Group report.

Trying to draw sustained international media attention to violent conflicts and mass atrocities around the world is a depressing business. The subject-matter is deeply disturbing, attention-spans are limited, and it is often hard to tell if publics are taking any notice in a way that is likely, in turn, to make their governments more responsive.

On Darfur, for example, non-governmental organisations such as the International Crisis Group have been ringing alarm-bells for over three years, yet effective international action to stop the state-sponsored violence has not materialised.
But new evidence suggests the message is getting across, at least on one level. A major new twelve-country opinion poll released on 5 April 2007 by and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs reveals some encouraging results regarding attitudes toward mass atrocities in general, and the Darfur tragedy in particular.

On the broader question of whether the United Nations Security Council has the "responsibility to authorise the use of military force to prevent severe human rights violations such as genocide, even against the will of their own government", strong majorities in many countries replied favourably. 74% of Americans agreed, along with 69% of Palestinians, 66% of Armenians, 64% of Israelis, 54% of French and Poles and 51% of Indians. And all populations polled were more in favour than opposed.

Perhaps the most surprising result emerged from China. Though its government has long been considered a staunch defender of state sovereignty under just about all circumstances, a full 76% of Chinese citizens agreed the Security Council had a responsibility to intervene when such mass crimes were taking place.

This is a heartening result. People around the world do feel a fundamental obligation to halt mass atrocities wherever they occur, by whatever means necessary. In short, the "responsibility to protect" doctrine (or "R2P" as it is coming to be abbreviated), has gained real street-credibility, notwithstanding the rearguard action being mounted against it by a number of states who hate the idea of any constraints on their sovereign power.
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