By Lloyd Axworthy and Allan Rock
Published in the Ottawa Citizen, October 25, 2011
In a fortuitous coincidence, last week’s liberation of Libya occurred exactly a decade after the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle was proposed by the Canadian-initiated International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS). The successful UN mission in Libya was a historic development for R2P – the high-water mark in a process that began in the late 1990s with the objective of protecting civilians from genocide through international action, and that has been building steadily since.
Cynical and short-sighted commentators have suggested in recent days that the Libyan intervention was a “one-off,” or motivated simply by western lust for oil. We argue just the opposite. What happened in Libya demonstrated R2P in action and proved that the principle can be applied effectively. While far from flawless, the Libyan intervention showed tyrants that we are collectively capable of standing up to them while respecting international law, and taught lessons to be applied in future such cases….