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The United States and R2P: The Report of the Co-Chairs of the Working Group on R2P

So I’m David Ignatius, a columnist for the
Washington Post. I want to thank Sara Bloomfield for that wonderful introduction. Just to repeat
we have an opportunity this morning to hear about the fruits of a year spent studying
the question of how the Responsibility to Protect can become more meaningful and powerful
in the world. It was sponsored by three wonderful organizations. I want to repeat them because
the work they do is so important: the US Institute of Peace, the Brookings Institution, and the
Holocaust Museum. I want to turn to the two co-chairs of the working group who guided
this study, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and ambassador Rich Williamson who
was America’s special envoy to the Sudan during the Presidency of George W. Bush that has
a distinguished record beyond that and ask each of them starting with Ambassador Williamson
to give this audience a sense of what after a year of study they have concluded about
how to make this R2P not just a doctrine but a reality and a basis for action in the world.
So Ambassador Williamson, please start. Thank you, David. First I want to thank those
of you who were interested in coming here today. I want to thank the three institutions,
especially the Holocaust Museum and Michael Abramowitz for being so helpful. I especially
want to thank my friend and colleague Madeleine Albright who has been a terrific collaborator
on this and other things. I just want to take a slight step back. The United States like
other countries first should be driven by a desire for their own national security.
That should be the dominant claimant, then other vital interests many of them economic.
But what has made the United States different was not only that it was founded on a belief
in human rights, but in the last 100 years we have allowed it to animate our foreign
policy. And America is best when it allows that to happen. And our interests are served
and the world is more secure. When I was up in New York as ambassador for special political
affairs I dealt with peacekeeping and became familiar with what was going on in the Eastern
Congo and in Sudan. And I was continually shocked about the capacity of man’s inhumanity
to man. Then when I was special envoy to Sudan I spent time in Darfur and Chad and South
Sudan visiting every time with refugees who had gone through horrific experiences. I came
to believe that what President Clinton and Secretary Albright did in responding to the
crisis and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo was important not only for that region,
for Europe, but for United States and the world. When President Bush joined the consensus
for the Responsibility to Protect in 2005, the United States agreed to this concept and
I felt it was valuable to try to help strengthen it, which is why I sought out Madeleine to
join me in this effort. The Responsibility to Protect isn’t the answer but hopefully
it can contribute by being an emerging norm that gains greater acceptances by governments
to make it easier for the decision makers to do something early when these crises break
out. Anyone who has had the privilege and honor of being in the Situation Room with
the President wrestling with these sorts of decisions know they are always tough. They
are case-by-case. You can’t do everything but just because you can’t do everything doesn’t
mean you shouldn’t do some things. And the Responsibility to Protect and the implementation
of a Genocide Prevention Task Force that Madeleine chaired with Secretary Cohen tried to lay
out steps that can be taken to make it easier to give early notice to make a difference.
So I think that’s why we both believe in R2P – all three pillars – trying to get the United
States to have the political will to help lead with others to stop atrocity crimes before
they become too horrific and the death despair and agony becomes too great.
Secretary Albright? Sara mentioned that it’s about to be 100 years
since the beginning of World War I. And she quoted Woodrow Wilson. I am a person that
was born in Czechoslovakia, a country that came into existence because of Woodrow Wilson
and the Fourteen Points and the real ideas of self-determination and that people should
live in their own sovereign countries. I left Czechoslovakia during World War II and came
to the United States when the communists took over and I wrote a book about what really
happened in terms of the beginnings of World War II and what were the warning signs? And
one could say, nobody sitting in this room however would say it, is that we didn’t know
what was happening during the Holocaust. We now know everything that’s going on everywhere
as a result of information technology and our capability of being more knowledgeable
about the internal affairs of other countries. And while what happened with Czechoslovakia
from a war-weary England and France led Neville Chamberlain to say “Why should we care about
people in faraway places with unpronounceable names?” And that is something that I think
echoes in our own approach as we look at the various issues that are out there in the world,
trying to figure out when we do know what is going on somewhere whether we should care
about people in faraway places with unpronounceable names, and what is the responsibility of the
international community – having kept in mind very much what Rich said about what our national
security issues are. Is there a way that the international community that was not able
to prevent World War I and World War II whether there’s something that can be done now to
protect those and prevent the kinds of things that lead to examples of never again? So this
is a very practical approach. We do understand that it’s a difficult concept and we are going
to talk about that. And one of the reasons that we wrote the report and we’re so pleased
that everybody is here – I’m really blown away by the number of people that are here
– because we think that it is not a fully understood concept that needs to be seen as
part of an international norm that is in the process of evolving and having all of you
understand it, and question it and question us, will we hope lead to the evolution and
understanding of the concept. And David, thank you very, very much for being here with us.
You and I talked about this and I’m very pleased that you -respected is an understatement when
one talks about what you are able to do in your writings. Thank you very much.
I’d like to just stay with the report for a minute so that we give the audience a little
flavor of what’s new in it, and I want to ask you about two particular aspects that
your working group ended up recommending as a way to make these three pillars on which
R2P is based. If you don’t know the literature the three pillars are: first, every state
has a duty to protect its people from genocide, ethnic cleansing; second, the international
community has a responsibility to assist states in doing this; and third, in the absence of
the first two, countries have to be ready to take action under the charter and this
report says we need to implement those three pillars more aggressively but there are two
things that caught my eye in your report and I want to ask you about them. Maybe each of
you could comment on one. One is greater use of the International Criminal Court, the international
organization of legal action that can move early against specific people so that you
don’t get to the stage where wholesale military intervention is required. And second, the
use of technology, the use of these modern technologies that Secretary Albright mentioned
to give early warning of disasters that are taking place that might not be understood
and make those visible to you and maybe each of you could briefly talk about those two
innovative ideas. Ambassador Williamson, maybe you could start with the ICC.
Sure. And Secretary Albright, maybe you could talk
a minute about the monitoring. To me the issue on the ICC is the issue of
accountability. I think it’s very important and it’s something in the last seventy years
the United States has taken some leadership in. The United States took the lead in forming
the Nuremburg and Tokyo trials after they effectively held some of the worst criminals
to account for those atrocities. There was a presumption that this would continue. It
got lost. For example, after the Cambodian Killing Fields no one discussed the need for
that. But then as the 20th century, the most brutal, the most victims in mankind’s history
– the pace picked up in the 1990s with Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo. The United States took the
lead in helping form the ICTY, ICTR. Also with the Sierra Leone Special Court and others,
the ICC is another manifestation. The last three administrations two democrat, one republican,
no one sent the ICC up for ratification. There are problems with it. But as our report says
it also is a vehicle that sometimes can be very useful to try to get accountability.
The US allowed the referral of Darfur to go to the ICC, contributed intelligence to strengthen
the case. Later when the African Union was making an effort for a so-called Article 16
to stop that, the US went out, with President Bush’s authority, to say we will veto that
and that faded away. So I think trying to continue to develop the principle of accountability
is important because in the end most of these conflicts are not spontaneous combustion.
They are the result of powerful people, either trying to stay in power or get to power and
willing to open the gates of hell to do that. Will accountability change it? Maybe some
cases. It will make it a more expensive decision. And that’s good, just like the R2P concept
is not an answer but hopefully is a step forward to ending these types of terrible situations.
Secretary Albright, do you want to talk a little bit about monitoring?
Well first of all let me just say on the accountability, it’s a very essential point but the other
is frankly that we’ve talked about is that the War Crimes Tribunals as well as the ICC
is a way to have individual guilt assigned and collective guilt expunged, which then
makes it possible for people to deal with teach other. So there are various parts of
it and I think that while it’s not perfect and there are a number of different ways that
people are looking at whether it’s an inducement for people to behave well or actually a way
for them not to because they don’t- there’s no immunity and so anything that is new has
its issues as it gets worked out, but I’m very glad that there has been an evolution
kind of in this whole concept of international norms on it. The monitoring is interesting
because what is, first of all, none of this can work without the cooperation of nongovernmental
organizations that are on the ground that can really help to provide information very
quickly about what is going on. What we do now have the technology is a two-edged sword
in many ways in terms of our new societies. In this particular venue, I think it is a
very positive one because with people first of all are able to transmit information very
quickly through mobile phones which there are many more than landlines in the developing
world. And also with photographs that they can take. All the various video equipment
that even the simplest places have and the monitoring makes a big difference because
then it isn’t just kind of hearsay but allows people to know what is going on. It does create
a need to act, however. That may be I think from the perspective of this report is positive,
but there are those in some places who would prefer not to know. But I do think that it,
there has been an entirely new way of knowing what is going on.
Should readers of your report begin thinking about a world where we have blue surveillance
drones over key crisis areas monitoring the possibility of terrible mass atrocities and
getting word to people who can act? We actually do, over Mali, that’s what’s going
on and I happen to think that, if they are used for surveillance, I think is a very important
part of this. And I do think the more we know the more equipped we are. We still come down
to the question of then what? But I do think also if people begin to recognize that they
are being watched, I think that that in itself may be also a help in preventing.
Yeah and we’ve seen George Clooney and John Prendergast’s effort with satellites to keep
the Sudan border region viewed and it’s very helpful I think especially, just to refer
to Sudan, when you’ve got government sometimes both in Juba and Khartoum that won’t let international
NGOs go there or the U.N. so you don’t have on-the-ground observers. So yeah, it’s an
additional tool to be used. I want to turn to the really difficult question
that R2P discussions raise and that is whether and how to act in difficult situations. We
might do that by just looking at developments since 2005 when the R2P concept was endorsed
at a U.N. World Summit and since then we’ve had atrocities in Darfur, in Sri Lanka, in
Libya, which we’ll talk about more in a minute, and most notably recently in Syria. And these
have all been difficult problems for the international community to respond to in a decisive way
that would stop the atrocities. They are tests of R2P but you’d have to say that they haven’t
been successful so far so let me ask you to address those tough questions that we’re facing
in our real world and offer some thoughts about them. Secretary Albright? You want to
begin? Well I think what is important is to go back
to as you described the three pillars because I think that people automatically think that
we’re going to militarily intervene somewhere. The military intervention part is the last
step not the first steps. And I think that the areas that have been the most difficult
are the ones where not enough attention has been paid early on. Nobody can speak about
Darfur better than Rich Williamson and I think that is partially a lack of recognition of
various elements on the ground including desertification, movement of a lot of refugees, so I think
that we have not seen the early signs. Sri Lanka has been a very long, ongoing, complicated
issue where we haven’t been able to get any purchase over either side, frankly, whether
it’s the Tamils or whether it’s the government are trying to figure out how to get at it.
Where we have been successful and I think it’s interesting in terms of Kenya where in
the set of elections that took place in 2008 led to a lot of violence and then we were
able to figure out how to get some international action in there to try to not only diffuse
the violence but also set up a procedure which allowed the next elections to– and had an
international negotiator, Kofi Annan went in in order to do a lot of diplomatic work
and then worked in order to not have this happen again. The same as in Cote d’Ivoire
where in fact the person that was elected couldn’t take office. The guy that was the
incumbent didn’t want to leave. Again there was international attention to these areas
ahead of time and did not require an on-the-ground intervention. And so one of the things that
we wanted to point to as success stories are those where the first two pillars are used
or looked at and the ones that are failures is where you haven’t been able to get in early
enough or haven’t seen the signs early enough. Which leads to this issue of the Atrocities
Prevention Board that does in fact set up a system within our government where some
early warning systems then yet transmitted through our government and then into the international
community. Ambassador?
Thank you, I just reinforce some of what Secretary Albright said. I think one of the difficulties
with people looking at the Responsibility to Protect is the assumption that you will
have robust action right away. And as we try to emphasize, just like the US, if you use
Secretary Albright’s words, has a large foreign policy toolbox. There is a large toolbox of
what can be done to respond to these types of crisis. And the earlier intervention is
both the cheapest and least kinetic. And Kofi’s role in brokering the post-election with Odinga
and others was a good example of it, Cote d’Ivoire a good example of it. I think Libya
has a whole bunch of lessons to be teased out but as you know there continues to be
a genocide in slow motion in Sudan. There are terrible atrocities in Syria and I’d rather
say that just emphasizes why those of us who believe that it’s both in our security interest
and consistent with our values to stop these spreading atrocities need things like the
Atrocity Prevention Board, need things like the commitment of Congress, need things like
organizing the bureaucracy of the US government better to respond, and working most importantly
with international partners to help us. The real lesson there is just we have to do better
and it’s going to take a while but progress has been made I believe.
I just want to push a little bit harder on the question of Syria because that’s taking
place before the world’s eyes right now. We have what appear to be documented allegations
of the use of chemical weapons against civilian populations. We have allegations by the government
of atrocities committed by the rebels and we have a situation in which the violence,
loss of life, potential dissolution of the country move forward every day and despite
the heroic efforts by Kofi Annan and his successor Lakhdar Brahimi as the international communities
representatives we have no apparent movement toward any diplomatic resolution. And I just
would say how should the R2P community view this? Not simply the terrible bloodshed but
the political difficulty of dealing with it? Well I do think it is obviously the most difficult
situation that is out there at the moment and decision makers are in fact wrestling
with some solution. I have to say I’m trying in my own mind to figure out how we got there.
And I do think that a lot of it has to do with what happened in the Arab world generally.
And if I might say last winter I was in a meeting. I was having a public discussion
with an Arab and I said, “It’s the winter so we can’t talk about the Arab Spring. We
can call it the Awakening.” And he got furious at me and he said “That is such an insult.
The Arabs haven’t been asleep all this time.” And I said “So what would you call it?” And
he said “Arab troubles.” And I said “What about Arab opportunity?” So just kind of those
four phrases indicate the different thinking about it. And I don’t–I’m not trying to obfuscate
here but I think basically for whatever reasons we didn’t fully understand what was happening
across the Arab world. That did come as a surprise. I think that needs to be looked
at with some clarity and a real objective approach to it. But I believe that what happened
in Syria is a part of that. Having met both Hafez Assad the father who was nicknamed the
Lion but was more like a mule and his son, Bashar Assad, for whom when I met him I always
thought that one and one made two but two and two never made four, so kind of trying
out figure out what they were doing. And so there was that issue and then I think, frankly,
people’s minds were somewhere else and were not if I might say so – it’s very hard as
a former decision maker to criticize those in office – but basically whether not enough
attention was paid. I think that part of the issue here and this is the difficulty of R2P
is to analyze whom you’re going to help. Who are the people? And part of it has to do with
the pillars again because it is the responsibility of a leader of his country, it’s usually his,
to in fact protect the people in that country. That is the responsibility. To care about
the people, the territory and the way of life, so the opposite was happening is happening
in Syria. So then I do think the international community, and not the United States but the
international community, as a whole has really failed in trying to find the right tools to
deal with it. And the US is not the only member of the international community. And that leads
to one of the major issues with R2P that I think we have to recognize and that is that
it requires the approval of the Security Council. And having been there and done that on Kosovo,
where it was clear that in the Security Council that the Russians were going to veto that,
we took it out of that cul-de-sac and put it with NATO. And so I do believe that R2P
is a very, very good international community approach, but personally I never believe we
should get stuck in a cul-de-sac. Well said. Ambassador?
Thank you. These are really tough decisions made more difficult by the fatigue of the
American public as a result of overreach from the Bush administration and the poor events
in post-conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. I would have wished we had been more leaning
in on Syria. But if I could I think one of the lessons of Syria is when you don’t act,
the cost. There has been a bleed with 600,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, a critical ally,
where the king was already suffering with other issues because of the Arab Spring. There
has been a bleed with refugees into Turkey and two instances where there actually were
missiles filed into our NATO ally, where we have certain treaty commitments if it gets
out of hand. Lebanon has been affected; Hezbollah’s involved, Israel is threatened. It’s become
a proxy war for a rising Shi’a Tehran against the Sunni states, the Gulf States that are
friends and allies. And the casualties have gone up. President Obama here at the Holocaust
Museum in April discussed how genocide and ethnic cleansing are a national security threat.
I think we’re seeing that today. Hopefully it will inform smarter people to think through
this and also as they weigh difficult decisions keep that in mind because the costs in Syria
are tragic for the over 100,000 people who have died and even more who have been wounded.
It’s a tragedy that’s going to be ongoing for a long time and probably a functioning
failed state for a while. But it’s a tragedy because of US interests that have been compromised
and challenged and may yet force us to take action that will be more expensive than if
we’d begun a long time ago. Could I just add I think that the points that
Rich made about being tired and I refer back to my opening statement? The British and French
were exhausted from World War I and they had lost a whole generation of young people. Their
budget was a mess. Their military infrastructure was questioned, and Neville Chamberlain decided
that in fact he would do anything for peace. And they made a deal over the heads of the
Czechoslovaks with the Germans and Italians and that country was sold down the river.
And I think that we need to recognize, and Rich said it, is we are tired from the War
in Iraq and the War in Afghanistan. And people feel that we have not paid enough attention
to things in this country which I happen to believe. And the question then is how do we
have a national discussion about this? Are we in fact in danger of what I’ve called the
inkblot spread of Syria and its longer term effect on our strategic interest. Or do we
in fact legitimately spend a lot of time thinking about what is going on in this country? And
so I return on the following thing which is, President Clinton said it first and I said
it so often it became identified with me – “We are the indispensable nation,” which we said
at a time that Americans were also tired from the Gulf War and too many years of not paying
attention to the United States. There is nothing, nothing in the definition of indispensable
that says alone. It just means the United States needs to be engaged, and I think and
I deliberately said the international community has failed on this. It is the United States
needs to be a part of this but we do not have to respond to this all alone and R2P is not
just America in there. And therefore we need to do more in terms of recognizing what the
problems are and that it’s an international responsibility, and that is where I think
we need more action and we need to have a discussion in the United States about what
our national interests really are. There is a big takeaway in what you both just
said that war weariness does not absolve a country’s moral responsibility to act. I want
to turn to a question that I think is rarely raised in discussions of R2P but is one that
has interested me for some years and I’m going to characterize it as the moral hazard problem
that goes along with an international commitment that there’s a Responsibility to Protect.
And by that what I mean is there is something that I sometimes call the power of the weak.
By that I mean the ability to start conflicts that you can’t finish – hoping, believing
that the international committee will come to your rescue when you are at death’s door.
We have seen bits of this in many countries as you know and I want to ask you how you
think sensible people involved in the R2P debate should deal with this question to make
sure that this international commitment isn’t taken by people to do things that if they
had to be entirely responsible for themselves and their communities they might not undertake.
Ambassador Williamson? Well, especially as you know there has been
a great deal written about the events that led up to NATO’s intervention in Kosovo in
that context with the Muslim community and the Christian community. I think that you
see that in a number of U.N. peacekeeping operations. Slightly different than the initiation
of atrocity crimes but it is a challenge. It’s case-by-case. It’s difficult. There is
no one-size-fits-all. Remember Hammerskjöld once wrote when he was asked about U.N. peacekeeping
if we should have a permanent force and he said, “Well the challenges are so different
case-by-case you need to make each one tailor-made.” So I don’t think you can come out with a simple
rule of how to handle it, but it’s something decision makers have to be aware of, and frankly
the US has a particular responsibility. When I was sitting in the Security Council and
everybody would talk about, and I’m sure Madeleine had this, “We’ve got to do this. We’ve got
to do that.” I’d raise my hand and say, “We?” Because others were volunteering the only
country that had the power for lift and other things to make it happen. So there are unique
responsibilities and opportunities with our status but I don’t think you can have a rule
that will fit all. You’ve got to be aware of it. You’ve got to be aware of the best
way to intervene. You’ve got to be aware of the need to have other countries involved
with you. You need to be aware of the broad participation, but sure, one of the factors
is to the extent in some circumstances you might have political minorities. Not ethnic
minorities, political minorities who see initiating violence as a way to get the international
community to enhance their situation. And let me just say finally we see that in Syria
where when there’s talk of a conference people try to change the facts on the ground and
commit even more intense atrocities to enhance their political position. It’s just a reality
that decision makers have to be aware of and the United States has a particular attentiveness
if we’re going to be effective. Secretary Albright, what would you say to
someone, a political minority that starts a fight they can’t finish? Is there a thought
you have on that? Well we’ve obviously all kind of thought about
this, one, when we had to deal with it and then in a more thoughtful academic way. Let
me just say that what I find interesting, and Rich as pointed out a lot of the issues,
is part of what makes an ethnic group or minority fight normally is that there is something
that they have been deprived of within the nation state that they are in. But also then
there becomes a dynamic within the group itself as to who is tougher, who is really standing
up, who is somebody who is a compromiser or whatever. I think that’s the hardest part.
And I can only tell you, you mentioned Kosovo, the time that I spent in Rambouillet dealing
with the Kosovo fighters, one of whom is now the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci,
and part of it was the extent to which he was willing to make a compromise on something
but some of the other people would say no, no, you’re just giving in. So the question
is, and I don’t know whether this is at all possible, whether there is a bit of a bargain
before you ever begin to support X in saying, “I will support you or we will, the international
community, but the price of the support is that when you’ve won you will actually not
do the same thing to the people you just defeated.” And while we’re speaking of Kosovo, they like
me there. We like you here too.
There is a whole generation of little girls called Madeleine. But the bottom line is that
I spent a lot of time telling the Serbs what they couldn’t do to the Kosovars. I have been
back to Pristina and what is interesting to me when I went initially during the bad period,
what you saw were the Orthodox Churches that were doing well and the Muslim Churches that
were surrounded, the Mosques, that were surrounded by barbed wire. When I went back to Pristina
the opposite was true and I said to them, “This is impossible.” I spoke in front of
the National Assembly and said, “You cannot do to the Serbs what they did to you.” The
question is whether one could have some kind of a reconciliation discussion before we ever
support it. I don’t know whether it’s possible because the dynamics that you talk about Rich,
that somebody for political reasons has to be tougher. And what I regret about Syria
is that because it’s taken so long, the most extremist factions in many ways now are able
to say, “Look, nobody helped us.” And so that is the issue, but easier to talk about in
theory than practice. Interestingly, the main message our Deputy
Secretary of State William Burns seems to have delivered on his recent trip to Cairo
to the new ruling regime is the need for inclusiveness. Don’t try to push the Muslim Brotherhood into
prison, underground, out of politics. Be inclusive. I want to conclude with one question and then
we’re going to turn to the audience for your questions so be thinking. That is what in
some ways is a great success for the R2P doctrine but in other ways illustrates its limits and
that is Libya. And I’d like to ask each of you to comment on Libya both in the sense
that people who were on the verge of annihilation in Benghazi were saved because of intervention,
yes, but because there wasn’t a responsibility to rebuild built into this doctrine adequately.
From every account that I hear and read Libya is really a mess, I mean security, and normal
life just don’t exist there now. Help us to think about Libya both as a success and as
a challenge. Libya was fascinating for many reasons. Among
them being it was the first time in the Security Council they actually invoked the words “Responsibility
to Protect” in a resolution dealing with this crisis, and then voted to authorize an intervention.
Two, we learned or relearned both the effectiveness and limits of our NATO allies in carrying
certain things out. But another thing I think we’ve learned is that in the calculations
of getting involved, part of it has to be the post-conflict situation. And whether we’re
looking at Iraq, Afghanistan, or Libya we shouldn’t give ourselves very good grades.
And you can’t come in and walk away and expect magically a society that’s been torn apart
– or in the case of Libya Balkanized for over 30 years even their military down to platoons
were by tribes, never integrated, no civil society – to all of a sudden find a reconciliation.
And I think we have to keep learning and getting better, and one of the things I take out of
Libya is in addition to the serious discussions and deliberations where the President decided
to go forward in March of 2011, I think it was or ’10, to support bombing. There probably
should have been more discussion of the responsibility when the change happens and hopefully working
with local players, the United States and others can help them to start taking a path
toward reconciliation. The division, the Balkanization between Benghazi and Tripoli that’s been there
for centuries is more acute. The violence out in the oil area to the east is worse and
we’ve had instances in the last two months where there have been demonstrations in violence
and militias taking over even government buildings in Tripoli. Getting rid of Mr. Qadhafi was
not the end story, it was just the end of a chapter and we should have stayed more engaged.
I think that it is fair to say that we live in an unbelievably complicated world where
easy answers do not come, and the bottom line is the Libya issue did come up during our
discussions and we asked each other was it going to help the R2P concept or hurt it?
Because it really was the first time, as Rich said, that it was included in a resolution.
I think that I hope the message that comes out of this discussion is that this is just
one way that we and all of the international community is trying to look at some kind of
tools to help solve increasingly difficult situations. We are living in an entirely different
world than the kind I grew up in and the nation-state aspect is more complicated. The existence
of a variety of ethnic groups, the different tools that are available, and I also think
that it is much easier to sit here representing no one than myself than to actually try to
deal with these issues. Because what happens, and both Rich and I have been in the Situation
Room, as far as I know you haven’t, is that basically you sit there and you put forward
issues and argue is this good or bad? What happens often is there are so many people
that can tell you why not to do something because this will be this and that will be
that, but then you don’t do anything and if you are the United States you are damned if
you do or damned if you don’t. And I think that the question is you have to do case-by-case
and the “doability” aspect of it, and you have to think about the unintended consequences
of either the decisions you make or the ones you do not. There is no President that ever
gets a clean slate. There are the carry-overs on it, and I can assure you that whether I
agree with them or not, there is nobody that sits in their offices trying to make stupid
decisions. They are trying to look at what the various aspects are and you do get kind
of dragged down by saying we’ll go in there, but it’s going to take a zillion dollars and
it will take many years and you still will not have accomplished anything. If there is
ever any lesson that I learned, however, we cannot be our normal Americans of saying done
it, been there, over. It is not true in the Balkans, it is not true anywhere. And I think
that we do need to understand that there is a commitment after whatever. And that the
R2P exercise is one of trying to get our heads around whether there is some new way of dealing
with this. So let’s turn to the audience if you would
wait we have microphone runners. I see a hand raised there. If you could please identify
yourselves, keep your questions short so I don’t have to be rude and interrupt. If you
have a question for a specific member of the panel please direct it to that person.
Hi, my name is Sara Federman. I’m a doctoral student studying corporate accountability
for mass atrocities, looking at those issues. Secretary Albright, you both can answer, you
were talking about the ICC as the criminal court focuses on holding an individual responsible
to expunge the collective. And also I feel like the Responsibility to Protect is actually
moving us towards a collective accountability towards this rather than saying there are
certain individuals responsible for all this. I know this is so complex and I guess I would
like to hear what you both have to say about holding the collective more accountable and
is there a way to do that that doesn’t create cycles of just shame and retribution?
I don’t know how to answer that. It’s interesting, I hadn’t put that together. I do think it’s
a combination of it. I do think that not everybody – when we say it’s “collective,” it’s collective
responsibility by the international community to do something and one would hope a collective
way that those who are fighting might think more as a group, but ultimately what we have
seen is that often the individual guilt is something that has been a result of “X” political
leader thinking that he can do better by whipping up anti-“X”, not just being proud in your
own group but curdling into hate of another. So I think it’s that combination of the collective
responsibility of the community to do something about it, but I do think that one would find
individuals, certainly it was true in the former Yugoslavia as well as in Rwanda, of
people that were specifically responsible for stirring up the hatred.
If I could just comment on that briefly. Again it’s somewhat a case-by-case situation. In
South Africa, Mandela made a determination. He was negotiating a transition and he couldn’t
sit across the table from the white apartheid government to negotiate a path to sustainable
peace and a new era if there was a threat of harsh justice. So he made a decision that
we’re going to have a truth and reconciliation commission so victims can record what they
went through so they could never be denied. Perpetrators would be identified. And there
is a certain punishment in that but he would not set up a court and it’s worked. You have
victims of apartheid who are now police commissioners, etcetera. My only point is that it is going
to have to be case-by-case because I used to be asked by my friends in the ICC and International
Justice during my tenure in Sudan about accountability, and I said, “Look, to me it’s pretty simple.
If you can hold those most accountable and bring them to justice great, but if it’s a
question of justice for saving lives I’m going to save lives.” And I was involved in getting
Charles Taylor out of Sierra Leone because we thought there would be 10,000 that would
die in the next few weeks if we didn’t during the Bush administration. But these are not
easy questions. They can be gray, they can be difficult, and I think when you’re talking
about other sorts of collective responsibility you have to have those factors in as well.
I want to call on Martin Indyk from the Brookings Institution, he’s one of the co-sponsors of
this report, and then the woman who sitting directly behind him in the white sweater.
Thank you very much, David. On behalf of Brookings, I want to say how delighted I am with this
collaboration of the Holocaust Museum and the US Institute of Peace, and congratulate
both Madeleine and Rich and the other members on the Task Force for a really compelling
report and a fascinating discussion this morning. I wanted to continue this question of the
ICC. In particular in the case of Syria where Assad and his henchmen are so clearly engaged
in crimes against humanity and the evidence is manifested and just mounting. And yet the
International Criminal Court is not only not engaged in any way but the threat doesn’t
seem to be used either because the judgment seems to have been made that it won’t be helpful
in this case, but that the best way is to get them to leave the country and therefore
there should be no invocation of the ICC. And I wonder is that a problem more generally
that’s developing now that precisely the kind of concerns that you mention, Rich in the
case of Mandela, begins to vitiate the effectiveness of the ICC?
Let me start but I just think that there have been questions generally, for instance you
dealt with Bashir and he’s an indicted war criminal and it doesn’t seem to have helped
to get him out of office. That’s one of the things that people have talked about is he
then has no kind of incentive to stop because he knows that he’s already indicted. I have
to say I created a group of former Foreign Ministers when I left office. One of them
is Lloyd Axworthy who is here and he can testify to the fact that we I think it was already
two years ago that as a group, three years ago, we called on the fact that the ICC should
come after Bashar Assad. There were those who argued exactly that this is not a good
idea because then he has nowhere to go and could one grant him immunity? But I think
that as that has also evolved that has raised these kinds of questions. Is it an incentive
or a disincentive? I always find it uncomfortable to talk about the ICC since we actually are
not members. I wish we were. And one of the pressures of the international community is
always that there are people who take this very seriously and the Canadians always do.
They have always pushed. I said this last night, I say it again, the Canadians are the
most responsible international citizens. They are always there. But I do think that the
bottom line is this is a hard issue to deal with, especially for the way that you’ve parsed
it. First, I want to say to Martin, thanks again
for Brookings’ help on this. More importantly, I hope the reports are right both for the
sake of the Palestinian and Israelis and the US interest, and I wish you Godspeed on your
mission, which hopefully you will take up soon.
Martin, any comment on that? Been there, done that, right?
I think it is case-by-case in the case of Sudan, Luis Moreno Ocampo, the Chief Prosecutor
and I had frequent discussions. I was urging him not to go forward with an arrest warrant
because I thought it would change the dynamic and Bashir would stay in no matter what because
of the alternative. I think he took a very credible position which that wasn’t his problem.
He was going to follow the law. He went forward with the arrest warrant. I think there was,
I have reason to believe there was pressure in Khartoum that may have bet their behavior.
Unfortunately by March, 2009 the US let him off the hook. So I think it might have been
able to be used in a positive way but instead Bashir’s continuing situation in power and
travel I think has weakened accountability in the ICC. But I don’t mean to cop out. I
do think it’s a case-by-case. I think it was very, very important that Charles Taylor became
the first African head of state who was brought to justice by the Sierra Leone Special Court.
I think it had a profound effect on a lot of bad actors. I do think as I went back earlier,
you have bad people making decisions to stay or get into power. If there is part of that
calculation a high probability that you eventually will be brought to justice, you are increasing
the bar slightly and anything to make it more difficult for someone to make the decision
to open the gates of hell is a good thing. Because we’re running out of time I want to
collect a couple of questions starting with you and then you, Sir, in the white coat and
I recognize one other woman down two seats. Those three and then we’ll turn back to our
panel for final comments. Thank you very much. My question is this.
Please identify yourself. My name is Barbara Dellow and I’m a mom and
I’m a nurse. And my question is this. It occurred to me once that North America has three basic
countries, and that if you look at international bodies like the ICC, it comes from the whole
world and there are continents like Africa and Europe that have many countries. And I
became aware that different countries have different notions of right and wrong, and
different ideas of justice. How can we ensure that in international bodies the decision
making will be in keeping with the values that we have? And how also can we be assured
that the outcomes after an intervention will be respective of the national desires of the
home population? Good question. Sir?
I’m Greg Stanton, President of Genocide Watch. I once served under Secretary Albright. The
question I have really is if a nation fails to exercise its responsibilities to protect
its own citizens, then who should it be? Who will take over that Responsibility to Protect?
You made one really I think very, very trenchant point in one of your statements in which you
said, “In Kosovo we did not get caught in the cul-de-sac out of the U.N. Security Council.”
In other words, other coalitions may be needed and I’m asking that specifically in regard
to Sudan and to Syria. Aryeh Neier has suggested that a court be set up, a war crimes court,
a crime against humanity court, to try those who are committing war crimes in Syria on
both sides. Why aren’t we perhaps organizing a coalition of the willing to wait for the
planes to land who are bombing the people in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile and so
forth, and then sending cruise missiles to destroy those planes?
And madam, finally, down two rows I recognized earlier.
Pauline Baker from the Fund for Peace. Sorry for that. My question is an extension of Ambassador
Indyk’s and that is there seems to be a growing backlash amongst some countries against R2P,
first because they think it’s an instrument of the powerful in the world to control the
weak, but more importantly, I think in terms of the ICC and the resistance to that, particularly
in terms of two sitting African heads of state now who have been indicted and the difficult
thing of dealing with the Kenyan situation where you have an elected president who is
now indicted by the ICC, and that has set off kind of a debate within the African community
that this is unfair and unjust and discriminatory. How do you deal with that? And how does R2P
become a more universally accepted norm? Good so there are three good questions: What
rules should prevail in the ICC? Who should act if the U.N. won’t? And then finally about
the backlash that we’re beginning to see against the R2P and any other concluding comments
that either of you had, Secretary Albright? Well let me say it’s interesting. All three
of the questions and the other points that have been made here really revolve around
the fact about what has happened to the international system? Is it a functioning system? And again
to refer to my age I went to college sometimes between the invention of the iPod and the
discovery of fire, but the bottom line is that I grew up learning about the United Nations
system and looking at what the basis of it was, which is the charter of the U.N. that
is based on a series of accepted laws and norms in terms of the basic human rights and
that we are all the same. I won’t go through all that, but basically that we are a system
of nation-states. The U.N. is not a world government. The nation-states continue to
have the power. But the system in itself as a result of more and more countries that are
artificial countries created out of a variety of ethnic groups. The information technology,
without going through it all has complete complicated the whole aspect of how the international
system works. The existence of non-state actors, a lot of people that in fact interpret the
charter in a different way. But I do think that also what I find interesting is looking
at what happened in the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st in terms of
trying to sort out what new norms might be. I think that clearly there’s a lot of evolutionary
aspect of this. And on the R2P, I think the questions have a lot to do with who actually,
let’s presume we agree, that X needs to be done in a particular country, who really carries
it out? There are questions as to whether it looks like aggression by white countries
against countries that are predominantly black or Christian countries versus Muslim countries.
And so there are those particular questions which need to be answered. I happen to believe
that it has to be multilateral action, a coalition of the willing of some kind of way that it
is not aggression by one particular country. But these are exactly the kinds of questions
that need to be asked and trying to sort out what is happening with the international system
because it is not the way it was and it has many more players and it’s much more complicated,
and we do know everything that’s going on. So that is why I’m very pleased that we actually
had this task force. We asked each other a lot of these questions, and that we have put
this on the agenda because people need to see it as an evolving concept that we’re going
to need help in explaining. Thank you. First with respect to the different
views on justice. I teach a course at Northwestern University on US Foreign Policy and Human
Rights, and I try to emphasize that every member of the U.N. has agreed to the U.N.
charter that does in paragraph 48 of its charter deal with human rights and shared responsibility.
Two, they’ve signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which is a pledge. So those
who want to try to move away from those standards, and by the way, they were animated more by
US values than anything else. As I noted earlier Eleanor Roosevelt was the Chair of the effort,
John Foster Dulles as well as seven other international personalities drafted it. So
I think you just say you signed up for it. You can’t recreate it, change it, distort
it. You are going to be held to account to these standards. Two, with respect to protecting
if governments fail, I think it was a great moment for America for President Clinton and
Secretary Albright when they made the decision they did in Kosovo. It is better to work through
the U.N. because of the outreach legitimacy buy-in. But you can’t let one country’s own
view of its own national interest prohibit action when these sorts of crimes are being
committed. Yes, there’s different views on the ICC. In fact after Bashir, Bashir had
been kind of isolated within the African Union. It was his turn to be chairman, he didn’t
get it. The only time he ever got unified support in the A.U. was when the ICC did an
arrest warrant because A.U. passed resolution to do an Article XVI and lift jurisdiction.
I was down in Addis meeting with the Secretary-General of the A.U. and the head of their peace commission,
and they said, “You know, if you don’t get this Article XVI, thirty-three countries will
withdraw from the ICC.” I said, “I’m from the Bush administration if happens, have me
lead the line.” Look, there’s going to be differences. You shouldn’t get bogged down.
It is difficult work. It’s case-by-case, I think as I said earlier we should push back
when people selectively are distorting the record of institutions. Most of the African
prosecutions went through the Security Council’s referrals. They weren’t initiated at the Hague,
and of course there are African members of the ICC, of the Security Council. Finally
let me thank David, but especially let me thank Madeleine Albright not only for her
leadership. It’s really awakened US foreign policy in Bosnia and Kosovo but also her willingness
to join this effort on the report and thank her for being such a good friend.
Can I say this is what it looks like when Democrats and Republicans cooperate?

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