You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

The Genocide Doctrine

The UN takes what would appear to be an interesting step, with American backing:

The Obama administration is supporting moves to implement a U.N. doctrine calling for collective military action to halt genocide....

The doctrine calls on governments to resolve internal conflicts before genocide occurs. If that doesn't work, the international community can step in. Among the options: The U.N. Security Council can vote for sanctions, the International Criminal Court can threaten prosecution, or the secretary-general can dispatch an envoy. After diplomatic intervention is exhausted, the last resort is Security Council-approved action by a multinational force. Nations would cover the costs of the troops they contribute.

Before joining the Obama administration, UN Ambassador Susan Rice was an extremely strong voice for intervention to prevent genocide--a cause she adopted after realizing she had not done enough as a mid-level official in the (Bill) Clinton State Department to prevent the genocide in Rwanda. (After witnessing the aftermath there, she told the Atlantic, “I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.") So at first this might seem like the hand of Rice pushing for a paradigm shift in how the world deals with genocide.

In fact, a source tracking the issue says there's "no news" in this development: The governments of the world--including the Bush administration--agreed to this concept in 2005. And in the four years it has taken to move from that agreement in principle to actual implementation as policy, it hasn't been enough to save the people of Darfur.

Moreover, doctrines can mean different things to different people, as the WSJ notes. The WSJ notes that Russia invoked this agreement  to justify its interventions in Chechnya and in Georgia last year."

--Michael Crowley