Selective Use of R2P to Secure Regime Change: India

Yoshita Singh/United Nations
Selective Use of R2P to Secure Regime Change: India
Citing the example of Libya and Syria, India has expressed concern that the UN principle of "responsibility to protect" is being selectively used to promote national interests and bring about regime change in the conflict countries instead of saving civilians.

India's Permanent Representative to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri said that over the last year, responsibility to protect or 'R2P' has again been invoked selectively.

"If this does not change, I am afraid, the noble idea of R2P will come into disrepute. Indeed, the Libyan case has already given R2P a bad name," he said at an informal meeting here yesterday.

Puri said R2P should start with political engagement with the parties concerned and only when an "honest and serious" attempt at settlement fails should the international community respond.

"And the response should again be calibrated and gradual, rather than immediate recourse to armed intervention. Selectivity must be avoided with respect to situations that the international community chooses to respond to. The principle must also be applied uniformly to all parties to a conflict," he added.

When intervening in a country facing conflicts, the international community must also be cautious and mindful of the consequences of its actions, Puri said.

"We must not end with a situation where saving hundreds causes killing of thousands. The UN must act impartially and must not take sides," he said.

Puri said as developments in Libya and Syria have shown, the principle of R2P is being used for regime change.

In Libya's case UN Resolution 1973 was aimed at ceasefire with the mediation of the African Union (AU), use of all necessary means to protect civilians, no-fly zone, arms embargo and targeted sanctions, Puri noted.

However, he said, as soon as the resolution was adopted, the "over-enthusiastic members" of the international community stopped talking of the AU and the bloc's efforts to bring about a ceasefire were completely ignored.

"Only aspect of the resolution of interest to them (international community) was use of all necessary means to bomb the hell out of Libya," he said.

Further, in clear violation of the resolution, arms were supplied to civilians without any consideration of its consequences, no-fly zone was selectively implemented only for flights in and out of Tripoli and targeted measures were implemented insofar as they suited the objective of regime change, Puri said.

"All kinds of mechanisms were created to support one party to the conflict and attempts were made to bypass the sanctions committee by proposing resolutions to the Council. It goes without saying that the pro-interventionist powers did not ever try to bring about a peaceful end to the crisis in Libya," Puri noted.

In Syria's case, Puri said instead of a simple step to hold the Syrian government to a timetable for political reforms, a resolution was proposed to impose sanctions.

"President Bashar Assad was declared to have lost legitimacy. The opposition was discouraged to engage with the government and the armed groups started receiving support ostensibly to defend themselves," he said.

These examples clearly underline the problem that the principle of R2P is being selectively used to promote national interest rather than protect civilians, he said.
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