Saturday, July 25, 2009
Natural Disastors and the Responsibility to Protect -- Looking Back at the 2008 Cyclone that Hit Myamar
A cyclone hit Myanmar (Burma) in May 2008, devastating large portions of the Irawaddy Delta and creating a humanitarian crisis. Foreign goverments offered humanitarian assistance to Myanmar, but the the government of Myanmar rejected aid from some countries, limited the amount of aid entering the country, and strictly controlled how aid was distributed.
The United Nations, many governments, and many NGOs criticized Myanmar’s response to the cyclone as inadequate an inhumane. Senior politicians from a number of countries discussed whether the situation justified invoking the “responsibility to protect.” (R2P)
Stuart Ford (a new professor at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago) has written a rather interesting and well-written paper that explores the crisis in Myamar and the responsibility to protect. His paper explores several important questions, including these:
- Can a natural disastor give rise to the responsibility to protect?
- What would countries have been obligated to do if the responsibility to protect had been invoked?
- Assuming that the invocation of the responsibility to protect would have been based on a finding that the Myanmar government was committing crimes against humanity, would the international community be obligated to prosecute violations of international criminal law?