When the Security Council Fails to Intervene in Mass Atrocities, Who Else Can Act?

Seema Kassab
Vol. 38 Associate Editor

There is no clearer example of the failure of the UN to halt mass atrocities and genocide than the current conflict in Syria. Nearly six years, hundreds of thousands of lives lost, and millions of refugees later, the UN has repeatedly failed to effectively take action in protecting Syrian civilians. In fact, the situation devolves year after year without a solution in sight. The dire need for humanitarian intervention in Syria is begging for a response from the international community and the invocation of Responsibility to Protect (R2P), an emerging norm in international law that places a responsibility on the international community to prevent and react to mass atrocities. R2P was intended to address genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing,[1] all crimes that the Assad regime has been committing in Syria for the past six years. The doctrine was adopted at the World Summit in 2005 in response to the failures of the international community to intervene in the humanitarian crises in Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo.[2] So why does R2P even exist if no one invokes it when it is most needed? Continue reading

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 and the Future of the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine

Sam Fitzpatrick, Vol. 36 Associate Editor

On March 17, 2011, the United Nations Security Council (“UNSC”) adopted Resolution 1973, providing the legal framework for the subsequent NATO led military intervention in Libya.[1]  The resolution established a “ban on all flights in the airspace of [Libya] in order to help protect civilians” and authorized member states to “take all necessary measures to enforce compliance with the ban.”[2]  NATO forces implementing this resolution, including troops from the United Kingdom, France and the United States, conducted 9,000 strike sorties in Libya over the course of the next six months, resulting in the collapse of the Qaddafi regime.[3] Continue reading