and giving refuge to those fleeing violence has always been a central concern of the churches. Protecting civilians in armed conflict
But as Christians, we ask: What action should be taken to protect human life?
<ul><li>For example, the military intervention in Iraq has been disastrous, and was not conducted in the interest of the Iraqi people. </li></ul>
<ul><li>But the lack of international action during the genocide in Rwanda was even more disastrous, costing nearly 1 million lives. </li></ul>
<ul><li>And, what are our responsibilities to civilians when a violent conflict or intervention has ended? </li></ul>As Christians, we also ask: <ul><li>Can more be done to prevent conflict in the first place? </li></ul>
In 2001, the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches began to explore these questions, seeking “an ecumenical ethical approach” to the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty also set out to answer these difficult questions in 2001.
After consulting with peacemakers, global leaders and parties to conflicts all over the world, the commission published a groundbreaking report entitled:
The report states that: <ul><li>The “Responsibility to Protect” civilians from violence – particularly genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity, lies primarily with the state. </li></ul><ul><li>But when a state is unable or unwilling to protect its population, the responsibility to protect civilians falls to the international community. </li></ul>
<ul><li>The report also sets out strict criteria to prevent unjust interventions, and interventions likely to do more harm than good. </li></ul><ul><li>These criteria ensure that the “Responsibility to Protect” concept cannot be used to justify illegitimate conflicts like the war in Iraq. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Finally, the report identifies three distinct responsibilities within the Responsibility to Protect: </li></ul><ul><li>To PREVENT… </li></ul><ul><li>REACT… </li></ul><ul><li>and REBUILD. </li></ul>
<ul><li>In 2005, the World Council of Churches held historic </li></ul>consultations on the Responsibility to Protect (dubbed “R2P” for short). <ul><li>The “R2P” concept was then adopted by over 300 church delegates from around the world at the WCC world assembly in Brazil. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Then, in 2005 and 2006, 192 countries (every member </li></ul><ul><li>This changed the “Responsibility to Protect” from a simple concept, to a strong international doctrine. </li></ul>state of the United Nations) recognised the international Responsibility to Protect.
Today, the R2P Doctrine applies to conflicts in: <ul><li>Burma (Myanmar) </li></ul><ul><li>Democratic Republic of Congo </li></ul><ul><li>Northern Uganda </li></ul><ul><li>Sudan </li></ul><ul><li>The Occupied Palestinian Territories </li></ul><ul><li>Zimbabwe </li></ul>
3. From words to action: implementing the R2P doctrine
Unfortunately, just because a new framework for protecting civilians in armed conflict has been adopted by the international community, there is no guarantee it will always be effectively implemented.
For example, R2P is applied on a case by case basis. This means that when a violent conflict arises or is about to arise, it must first be identified by the United Nations Security Council, and then the member countries must agree on how best to apply the R2P framework.
Age-old international politics and conflicting national interests can easily interfere in this process and can cause the R2P doctrine to be implemented poorly, or not at all.
When this happens, it is up to everyday people all over the world , to put pressure on their home government to uphold its responsibility to protect, as a member of the international community.
For example, the conflicts in Burma (Myanmar), Darfur and Palestine all engage the responsibility to protect doctrine. Yet the genocidal violence in Darfur, war crimes in Burma, and mass human suffering in Palestine persist, despite international outrage.
BURMA <ul><li>China and Russia used their veto powers to block a Security Council resolution that would have applied the R2P framework to Burma, and called for an immediate end to the violence. Unfortunately, both countries have economic interests tied to Burma. </li></ul>
DARFUR, SUDAN <ul><li>A Security Council resolution adopting R2P as a framework for Darfur was passed in 2006. However, the resolution was too weak to be effective, largely due to China’s economic interests in the region. </li></ul>
Palestine <ul><li>That the people of Palestine have continued to suffer serous harm for over 60 years is a failing of all parties – the Israeli Government, Palestinian Authority and International Community, to uphold their responsibility to protect. </li></ul>
In all of these cases, it is now up to the people in democratic countries like Australia, to use their voices and their votes to ensure that their government recognizes and acts on its responsibility to protect, and uses its diplomatic and economic relationships to encourage other countries to do the same.
BURMA <ul><li>The Burmese Military continues to commit war crimes with impunity, because it does not feel there is any credible threat while China remains its ally. It is therefore vital that China stop political and economic support for Burma so long as the violence continues. </li></ul><ul><li>Nations like Australia must have the political will to put diplomatic and economic pressure on China to accept an R2P Security Council Resolution on Burma. </li></ul>
DARFUR, SUDAN <ul><li>The conflict in Darfur is a genocide, and therefore military intervention may be warranted. However, a plan already exists for the deployment of 25,000 peacekeeping troops to Darfur that would avoid a military intervention and help stop the conflict. So far, the government has refused to let these troops enter the devastated region. </li></ul><ul><li>Like Burma, Sudan is only confident it can resist international pressure while China remains its ally. </li></ul>
Palestine <ul><li>In Palestine, the international community’s responsibility is to facilitate a peace process, to continue to supply vital services like education and health care, and above all, to have the political will to ‘get tough’ on Israel. </li></ul><ul><li>Israel’s allies, including Australia, as well as members of the Security Council, must recognize Israel’s military operations, the diversion of water from the territories, and the construction of a giant wall dividing the holy land, as breaches of Israel’s responsibility to protect. </li></ul>
4. What can I do as an Australian, and as a member of the Global Christian Community?
<ul><li>Australian support for the R2P doctrine is important to ensuring it is upheld where people are most in need. </li></ul><ul><li>Support for the doctrine by faith based groups and the wider Christian Community signals to our political leaders that protecting civilians from mass atrocities is a moral imperative. </li></ul>
What Can I do? <ul><li>As an individual, you can write a letter to your local member for parliament or the foreign minister, voicing your concern on one or all of the issues raised in this presentation. </li></ul><ul><li>You can also use the upcoming election to find out where the candidates stand on R2P, and make your voice heard. </li></ul>
What Can we do? <ul><li>As members of a Christian community, we can raise awareness of R2P in our wider Church community. </li></ul><ul><li>We can utilize the resources found in the rest of this Refugee and Migrant Sunday kit to help celebrate the day, to share our knowledge and feelings on R2P and the prevention of human suffering, or to raise funds for humanitarian relief initiatives operated by Christian World Service. </li></ul>
Want to find out more? <ul><li>Utilize the resources found in the 2007 RMS kit, or online at: www.ncca.org.au/cws </li></ul><ul><li>For more detailed information on R2P, visit www.enoughproject.org , and www.responsibilitytoprotect.org . </li></ul><ul><li>To read the World Council of Churches statement on R2P, visit: www.ncca.org.au/cws/r2p . </li></ul>Prepared by Julia Roy, Christian World Service, for the National Council of Churches in Australia, RMS 2007. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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