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R2P in Crisis Following UN Syria Vote

Speaker: Stewart M. Patrick, Senior Fellow and Director of the International Institutions and Global Governance Program, Council on Foreign Relations
February 6, 2012

The UN Security Council's failure to pass a proposed resolution on Syria has put the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine "in major crisis," argues Stewart Patrick, director of CFR's International Institutions and Global Governance program.

He says while the intervention in Libya appeared to validate the R2P, Russia and China have been critical of the NATO mission that led to the ouster of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi. "They saw the West, including the United States, taking a resolution calling for all necessary means to protect civilians and turning that into a license for regime change, and they're bound to determine that this should not happen in the case of Syria."

Warning that the failure of the resolution will lead to greater violence by the Assad regime in Syria, Patrick says it also poses a dilemma for the Obama administration as it weighs options for intervention. "There's really only one option if President Obama wants to get more coercive," Patrick argues, and that is to bring together a coalition of NATO or other allied countries, including the Arab League.

Finally, he says, the resolution reflects the growing role of the Arab League in the international community, and bodes well for future initiatives on peacemaking and political liberalization coming out of the Arab world.

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