Sovereignty implies responsibility to protect citizens- UN's Deng

[TamilNet, Monday, 28 January 2008, 00:44 GMT]
"[T]he idea of “R2P” was principally meant to stress that sovereignty implies the responsibility of states, first and foremost, to protect their own citizens, with the international community providing support when governments prove incapable of doing so," said Francis Deng, United Nation's Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide and other Mass Atrocities, in the Winter 2007 Bulletin of UN's Department of Political Affairs

Deng — a distinguished academic, former diplomat from his native Sudan and longtime UN official acknowledged for his pioneering work on internally displaced persons (IDPs) — also took pains to assure that while he will be careful not to alienate the very people he is trying to influence, he would not shy away from “calling a spade a spade” when appropriate, the bulletin said.

UN Secretary- General’s new point man on the prevention of genocide, Francis Deng
Deng told the publication in an interview that he feels too much emphasis is being placed in the public debate on the “last resort” of military intervention — one he would apply only in cases of “abysmal failure” by states to protect their own people.

“My sense is that except for very weak states or failed states, states that have collapsed and there is a vacuum to be filled, you have two obstacles to overcome. The resistance of governments and the reluctance of international actors to send in their young people to fight,” Deng explains, citing East Timor, Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Somalia as rare examples in which the international community was able to get in.

Deng says, as part of the initial round of consultations, he has been reaching out to NGOs, viewing them as important allies. He has sought both to explain his approach on sovereignty as “responsibility with international cooperation”, and also to provide assurances that he will be willing to speak out publicly when necessary.

“When I had the mandate for IDPs I didn’t visit countries that had crises and come back and publish glowing reports about them,” he notes.

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