Responsibility to Protect – Pure Machtpolitik oder echte Menschenrechtspolitik?

Die Internationalen Kommission zu Intervention und staatlicher Souveränität (ICISS) veröffentlichte im Jahre 2001 einen Bericht, der mit der benennung der Schutzverantwortung oder „Responsibility to Protect“ die Debatte über die sogenannte humanitäre Intervention neu entfacht. Robert Schütte und Johanne Kübler haben in einem Occasional Paper der Human Security Research Unit der Universität Marburg den Hintergrund der Kontroverse rund um Souveränität und Intervention analysiert und gängige Kritiken des Konzepts mithilfe von Theorien der Internationalen Beziehungen erklärt.

Conclusion: The Responsibility to Protect Between Concealed Power Politics and Principled Policy

Humanitarian objectives play an increasing role in the public discourse of politicians and media, which has even lead social scientists to identify a so called CNN effect influencing the public agenda profoundly. The mobilization of political support and financial aid in cases of human suffering brought to the attention of a wider international public indicates an increasing attachment to the needs and fears of people around the world. It has become a commonplace to assume that economic globalisation and liberal-democratic hegemony are contributing to or even causing the growing extent of interdependence throughout the world, thereby cumulatively reducing the importance of the factors time and space for social interaction. It is for this that classical concepts of security are increasingly queried with the aim to broaden the focus and analysis of the issue. Kofi Annan got this situation to the point stating that “today, no walls can separate humanitarian or human rights crises in one part of the world from national security crises in the other.“ In fact, the fall of the Berlin wall and the dissolution of the communist military and ideological counterpart to liberal democracy have greatly picked up the pace in favour of human rights. It is in this new global political context that the gap between expectations in a new human world order and the mind-shocking humanitarian catastrophes at the beginning of the 90s have provoked a controversy concerning the limits of sovereignty as well as the international community’s duty to react. Furthermore, the failure of the United Nations Security Council to overcome old lines of division has spread the opinion of a need to reform the global architecture of global security governance.

The present paper has outlined that, thanks to its long engagement for the humanitarian cause and its implementation of Human Security as official foreign policy doctrine, Canada has took up the task to find a viable answer to the question of humanitarian intervention and state sovereignty. The resulting report The Responsibility to Protect has elaborated and clarified a more comprehensive notion of sovereignty, which stresses the responsibility of a state to protect its citizens from harm. Given that a state is not able or not willing to provide for the security of its people, the international community is allowed to react under certain conditions. Such an interference in the domestic affairs of another state has to meet high criteria of legitimacy, adequacy, proportionality and prospect of success over the long run, therefore comprising also a responsibility to prevent and to rebuild, besides the already discussed responsibility to intervene. In this setting the Security Council plays the chief part, which can only be overridden in cases of an obvious defection on grounds of political mischief of a veto-power. Despite all efforts to avoid any possibility of voluntaristic exploitation of the rules stated by the ICISS, there is a line of division mainly between the liberal democratic sphere and the G-77. In order to account for the prevailing logic of approval and opposition to the reports proposition, the paper has outlined and discussed two theoretical approaches to the question: A Classical Realist position, drawing on E. H. Carr, identifying the support of the west and the resistance of the G-77 as a form of concealed powerpolitics. Furthermore a Constructivist perspective, which considers the enforcement of human rights a principled belief gaining a more salient role for the definition of national interests after the end of Cold War, thereby granting to normative ideas an independent and powerful role in the explanation of foreign policy. In any case, it is impossible to assign one of the approaches an a priori superiority. The Judgement of which paradigm serves better as an explication of the logic for support and opposition of a new notion of sovereignty is contingent on the preferences of the researcher, and maybe also on his cultural and political background.

Following Kuhn’s explanation of normal science and paradigmatic shift, this is rather a socio-psychological question of persuading researchers than a task to consider what is right or wrong, because a paradigm “cannot be made logically or even probabilistically compelling for those who refuse to step into the circle” of its hermeneutical hard-core. Both approaches concede an intrinsic value to the understanding of world politics, and it lies basically with the prevailing researcher to estimate which one is more convincing. It remains still to be answered whether the Realist hegemony in International Relations Theory will be challenged by more sociologically influenced theories like that of Constructivism. In order to see further than the end of ones own epistemic nose, it is remarkable to note such a steady shift in economics translating in an incorporation of psychological and sociological, that is for our purpose ideational, variables in its research design: For his work on psychological factors in economics, Daniel Kahnemann even received the Nobel Price in 2002. In any case, to find adequate theoretical interfaces for the concept of Human Security in International Relations theory is a valuable field of research for the Human Security community, clarifying thereby the scope and precision of the concept to analyze question of security at the beginning of the 21st century.


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