The Responsibility to Protect: Neoliberal Imperialism or International Human Rights?

The Responsibility to Protect was introduced by the United Nations in 2005, a set of principles around the idea that State-sovereignity is not a privilege, by which rules can deal with internal issues with inpunity, but rather a responsibility. The Responsibility to Protect was established to prevent mass atrocity crimes, including genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Responsibility to Protect argues that governments have a responsibility to protect their populations from mass atrocities, that the international community has a responsibility to protect that population if a government will not, or cannot do so, and that this includes all actions including military intervention.

Pioneered by the African Union, following the failure of the international community to prevent genocide in Rwanda in 1994, the doctrine was codified at the 2005 United Nations World Summit and was affirmed unanimously by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1674.

Critics of the RtP argue that it undermines state sovereignty. Supporters argue that it is necessary to stop mass atrocities. In 2012 the doctrine was imposed to implement a a no-fly zone during the Libyan uprising and an end to military attacks against civilians.

How do we best protect civilians against mass atrocities by the State and other agencies?

Saturday March 19th at 6pm Kingston Hotel Ante Room, 55 Highett Street, Richmond

A Meeting Sponsored by the Isocracy Network ( with Speakers from the United Nations Association (Victorian branch).

Commenting on this Story will be automatically closed on July 6, 2012.


I imagine that everyone here is quite familiar with Luxemburg's criticism of the supposed right of nations to self-determination, the fact that this can more than often become an excuse for reactionary politics, and Lenin's reaction to Luxemburg's criticisms.

I'm not going to elaborate initially on that debate, but rather I wish to contextualise it with the current UN principle of "Responsibility to Protect". This is a policy based on the idea that the State does not have the right to act with impunity within its borders, and specifically the international community should intervene where a State cannot, or will not, act against mass atrocities.

From the outset it must be stated that of course that the RtP is basically a liberal-democratic doctrine which does not engage in a class analysis of what the State is.

Nevertheless, it does seem to concur with some of the trajectories that Luxemburg was making in regard to her criticism of the right to self-determination. Specifically:

a) That "nations" do not have a right to self-determination, but rather people do. Emphasising the right to national self-determination can, and inevitably does, mean that universal human rights (by which we can easily note worker's rights) are suppressed. Advocating for worker's rights must have priority over arguing for national rights.

b) That "nations", the form of the nation-state, may very well be the natural and highest form of liberal capitalism (as Lenin pointed out), but the internationalisation of the world economy and political systems will increase over time, rather than decrease. Again, emphasising national self-determination as transcending these global trajectories is reactionary (this time, economically reactionary, rather than politically).

Thus, whilst the RtP doctrine is being used a tool of the liberal-democratic capitalist class to enforce their political preferences (e.g. Libya), it also seems that this is an inevitable and even progressive policy, especially in the absence of a mass proletarian international alternative.

Es irrelevante que exista o no una masa proletaria en determinado estado-nación para que el derecho de autodeterminación, entendido como derecho de las personas a ser protegidas de su propio estado, según entiendo que defiende el texto de Lev, tenga vigencia. En tales supuesto cabría hablar de "derechos humanos" que es el otro gran sujeto del derecho internacional público (sea lo que sea esto: mas bien poca cosa) al lado del principal El Estado y no de aplicación o no del derecho de autodeterminación: así pues del derecho de asociación, a crear sindicatos, de movilidad geográfica, de manifestación, opinión, etc., etc.

Yo estoy doblemente contrario a la defensa del DAN puesto que ha resultado ser el aglutinante y componente principal de esa caricatura del Comunismo que nos ha llegado a través de su implantación ¡y verdadera y triste Refundación! en las luchas de liberación coloniales. Desde China a Cuba, Venezuela, Vietnam, Sudáfrica, Palestina, el marxismo se mezcló en verdadero sincretismo con religiones locales, folclores, independentismo pequeñoburgués, antiracisimo, nacionalismo de todas clases, etc. El producto final de la adopción del DAN por el Comunismo es esa triste y torpe ideologia llamada ANTIIMPERIALISMO.

salud: JM.