Libya's National Transitional Council Chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil shakes hands with Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, during a meeting in Tripoli, 11.20.2011.
KPFA Weekend News Anchor Anthony Fest
: Turning now to news from Africa, U.S. UN Ambassador Susan Rice visited the Genocide Memorial Centre in Rwanda's capital city Kigali today, after visiting a mass grave near Tripoli, Libya's capital, on Tuesday. Yesterday, speaking in Rwanda, she told a crowd that President Barack Obama had taken action in Libya because he was determined not to watch “another predictable horror unfold,” along the lines of Rwanda's 1994 genocide. KPFA's Ann Garrison has more.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Speaking in Kigali, Rwanda yesterday, Ambassador Rice said, "This time, the Security Council acted. And acted in time. Having failed in Rwanda and Darfur, it did not fail again in Libya. Within less than two days, American firepower played a decisive role in stopping Gadhafi’s forces and saving Benghazi.”
Rice also said that political life is closed in Rwanda and urged Rwandan President Paul Kagame to stop jailing and even disappearing his political opponents. She did not, however, directly address the case of Victoire Ingabire, Rwanda's best known opposition leader, who is in prison and on trial for challenging the official, Constitutionally codified history of the Rwanda Genocide. Ingabire acknowledges that Tutsis were killed by Hutu extremists in 1994, but maintains that Hutus were also killed by Tutsi extremists, and that all victims should be remembered.
Rice declared NATO's war in Libya a successful implementation of the "Responsibility to Protect
" doctrine by which the UN Security Council can vote to use military force to protect the people of another nation from their own government.
However, many scholars, activists, and lawyers say that the "Responsibility to Protect" is a license for aggression. Canadian lawyer Christopher Black, who has represented defendants at both the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal on Yugoslavia calls it a euphemism for the right to attack at will, and says that it eviscerates the UN Charter:
Christopher Black: That's just a euphemism for the right to attack anybody you please. It completely eviscerates the Charter. The Charter guarantees complete sovereignty of nations and the self-determination of peoples. The people who claim that there's a responsibility of some nations to protect the peoples of other nations against their own domestic governments. . . it's just a prescription for aggression.
KPFA: Black also points out that only nations or alliances of nations with a preponderance of the world's firepower can deploy the "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine.
Christopher Black: But it only works one way of course. Nobody could ever say the United States should be attacked because its government is beating up protestors in New York City or in Oakland. If Russia and China decided to invoke the "Responsibility to Protect" and send forces into the United States to help the people against this government . . . well, that wouldn't fly far.
: Friends of the Congo Co-Founder Carrie Crawford, In her essay, "The Responsibility to Protect and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
," just published on the San Francisco Bay View website, writes that, "There can be little dispute that the crisis in the Congo has gone beyond any Responsibility to Protect threshold." But, she writes, not even peaceful measures have been taken.