United Nations, International Law and the Responsibility to Protect

Jorge Arreaza Montserrat

Analysis of the Subject and its Objectives

“Our first objective is to prevent the emergence of a new rival. This is a dominant consideration which must underline the new regional defense strategy and which demands that we strive to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources could suffice, under consolidated control, to engender a global power (…). Finally, we must maintain mechanisms to deter potential competitors from even aspiring to a greater regional or global role”.[1]

U.S. Defense Planning Guidance, 1992.

“We have about 50 percent of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population (…). In this situation we cannot help but be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the period ahead is to design a pattern of relations that will enable us to maintain this position of disparity without detriment to our national security”.2].

George Kennan, American Cold War ideologue.

After the Second World War (1939-1945), the reorganization of the correlation of geopolitical forces led to a new logic for managing relations and tensions between countries, opening the way to a new era of alleged weakening of the nation state under threat from the hegemonic powers that were expanding from the West. The creation of the United Nations (UN), as a guideline for diplomacy and relations between States, was based on a body of norms: Public International Law (PIL), which contemplates the responsibilities and prerogatives of the actors in the world system. The Charter of the United Nations is assumed by PIL as a fundamental instrument in this stage of international relations.

The pre-eminence of the victorious powers as determining actors in the fundamental decisions of the entire world was formalized. The clearest expression of this was the formation of the Security Council and the prerogative known as the “right of veto”, applicable to major issues of debate. The United States, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR, now Russia), France, the United Kingdom and China agreed on a sort of “last word” for sensitive situations in international relations and their inevitable contradictions. In negotiating the provisions of the UN Charter, Washington put up resistance to approve the right of veto; however, for the Soviet Union its establishment was indispensable, otherwise it would have been subjected to an all-out war against the USSR.
https://isrobinson.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/j6-1024x776.jpgThe Yalta and Potsdam conferences, whose protagonists were Josef Stalin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, delineated the post-war international order. (Photo: Archive)

The crisis of the 1990s and the collapse of the socialist bloc, which served as a counterweight to capitalist hegemony, gave the forces of Atlanticism an apparent free hand and an atmosphere of moral and political superiority. With no understanding of the historical responsibility implied in the real administration of conflicts, trampling on the precepts of equality among States, a partisan and biased universalist re-signification of two fundamental concepts: democracy and freedom, is being arrogantly imposed. Notions that they manipulate at their convenience and dogmatize under the unilateral and reduced view of their own understanding of the world, in which economic, military and financial corporations pull the strings of power and seek to homogenize the world to create conditions of general domination. The Dominican thinker and politician Juan Bosch identified this alleged new model of world control under the category of “Pentagonism”.[3]

This new way of doing politics, based on the convenient interpretation of universal values, has been led by Washington and seconded by the forces aligned to the Atlantic geopolitical axis. It is a crusade for the legitimization of a univocal way of understanding and cataloguing the moral and political imperatives involved in relations between States. As a good crusade, this display of impositions is accompanied by a powerful inquisition. It initiates a kind of ongoing judgment of the way in which nation-states conduct their policies – both domestic and foreign. This dangerous operation of determining international moral justice is closely related to a powerful cartelized device of communication and opinion, in charge of “building the dossier”, reproducing it relentlessly and issuing tailor-made opinionated sentences.

At this point, it is worth recalling what the former Secretary of Defense of the Bush administration, Donald Rumsfeld, said in 2001, referring to how the United States should exercise its role as an empire: “We have two options. Either we change the way we live or we change the way others live. We have chosen the latter option.”[4]

Public International Law formally recognizes three elements that are fundamental to its spirit and meaning as pillars: equality among all States; respect for national sovereignty; and the right to self-determination of peoples. Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations, in its paragraphs 1 and 7, is crystal clear on these principles. Equality and respect for sovereignty lead irremediably to the recognition of diversity and respect for sovereign decisions. Public International Law allows the coexistence of all these voices and seeks the peaceful resolution of disputes, which inevitably arise from the plurality of views.
https://isrobinson.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/j1-1024x682.jpgUnited Nations Security Council, located in New York. (Photo: Johannes Eisele / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images)

The need on the part of Western hegemony to “channel” everyone through its narrow vision clashes with the spirit of diversity that governs international law. In other words, the principles of international law, as expressed in the Charter of the United Nations, represent a straitjacket for Western domination and its formulas of imposition. That is why it is forcing the development of alternative devices, anti-legal shortcuts (disguised as legality), which seek other ways for control and advocacy. After all, for Atlanticism, everyone must use the same alphabet and the same uniform with its infallible gringoes.

As a tactic of the strategy of ideological homogenization, concepts and theses such as the defense of democracy are developed, while human rights are instrumentalized, placing them at the service of the particular interests of the hegemonic powers, distorting their realization and meaning as ends in themselves. These powers are thus given a tool of intervention with moral and humanitarian overtones, with which they generate a convenient version to legitimize unspeakable objectives.

The English language, with its characteristic versatility, contains a precise verb to understand this way of doing politics with Human Rights (not of HR): to weaponize, to use HR as a weapon, the weaponizing of Human Rights. Under the delicate cloak of respect for the integrity of citizens, the aim is to undermine or break the quality and integrity of state sovereignty, when in fact ensuring human rights is the first constitutional power and responsibility of every state. There is no doubt that those precepts that serve life, as well as all the fundamental guarantees of dignity of citizens, are the responsibility of States and their institutions. The human rights banner is very sensitive to public opinion, which is also manipulated by the published opinion of media cartels at the service of hegemonic interests. This is why it has become fertile territory for sowing suspicions about countries and governments that are not subordinated to the political, economic and moral dictates imposed by the Western hegemonic vision.

International relations have constructed some incipient ways to deal with the eventual overflow that national States may suffer in their responsibility to guarantee human rights. The Rome Statute, for example, is the birth certificate of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and clearly typifies in Article 5 the crimes under the jurisdiction of the Court: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression (the latter still with very partial validity depending on each ratifying state as of 2015). The ICC is an institution that aims to ensure the possibility of condemning the individual criminal responsibilities of state officials and other agents acting on behalf of the state, in matters of violation of crimes against humanity. It is not a perfect instance, nor is it exempt from interests unrelated to justice, but it is part of the agreements of a large number of States to address the most sensitive human rights situations, in the context of International Humanitarian Law.

The Responsibility to Protect or how to abuse the protection of Human Rights in order to unprotect them.

The doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect is one of the formulas intended to be used to impose political and economic models without respecting the principles of international humanitarian law, under the pretext of protecting the human rights of a given population in the face of crimes against humanity. It comes from International Humanitarian Law and is applicable when there is a serious and massive violation of human rights in terms of crimes against humanity, nullifying the State’s capacity to protect its populations in the midst of armed conflicts. It is related to UN Peacekeeping Operations, except for two fundamental differences: the Responsibility to Protect can be invoked without being in the presence of a military conflict and even when the State concerned does not request or authorize it. The debate to extend this concept to non-war situations took place in the United Nations General Assembly in 1999, when the Secretary General, Kofi Annan, in the light of what happened in Srebrenica, Somalia and Rwanda, and in view of the resounding failure of NATO’s military intervention in Kosovo, posed a dilemma for the international community: stand aside and allow genocides such as that in Rwanda or intervene, as in the case of Kosovo. Obviously, the notion of national sovereignty is violated, not to say ignored, if this doctrinaire prospect takes on legal force.
https://isrobinson.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/j2.jpgPeople pick up debris left by a NATO bombing of Kosovo. (Photo: Scott Peterson/ Liaison / Getty Images)

In December 2001, before the turmoil of the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York had dissipated, a report was presented by the UN International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), which shifted the focus from the legitimacy of humanitarian military interventions to the responsibility to protect. However, it was at the 2005 United Nations Summit that the alleged doctrine was definitively enshrined, although reserving the prerogative of States to guarantee the human rights of their citizens, as stated in paragraph 139 of the Declaration of the Member States of that year:

The international community, through the United Nations, also has a responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we stand ready to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations where appropriate, if peaceful means are inadequate and national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for the General Assembly to continue to consider the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, as well as their consequences, taking into account the principles of the Charter and international law. We also intend to commit ourselves, where necessary and appropriate, to assist States in building capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, and to assist those under stress before crises and conflicts break out[5].

There are authors who try to infer the legal basis of the Responsibility to Protect from the letter and postulates of the preamble of the UN Charter and its first article. This pseudo-legal argument is very weak, it embraces a moral pretext and clashes, to the point of crashing and dying, with the principles and purposes of the Charter itself and the specific development of its network of provisions and articles.

The strength of the rule of law is what makes them the only spaces capable of guaranteeing the rights of their populations, as the contemporary evolution of constitutionalism points out, so that currents such as those that support the Responsibility to Protect intentionally pose a false dilemma between the violation of human rights and respect for the sovereignty of States. The ICISS itself states:

(…) the idea that sovereign states have the responsibility to protect their own citizens from avoidable catastrophes – mass murder, systematic rape and starvation – but that, if they are unwilling or unable to do so, this responsibility must be assumed by the community of states”[6].

Thus, in the absence of a rigorous normative system to regulate the scenarios of military intervention, the possibility is left open for the Security Council to authorize such extreme operations, based on assumptions that, by their nature, will always be subject to interpretation, bias and mediation. The verbs used alone give rise to any version: to will and to be able to.

In other words, the Security Council, or whatever body is finally chosen, would set itself up as a tribunal capable of determining whether a State wants to or can protect its population in a particular situation. And if they were to consider that it does not want to, or that it cannot (with only one of the assumptions would be enough), they would have the green light to bomb and send troops to that country to remedy the situation, under their criteria and conditions. And in good Western style, after “remedying” the situation and taking geopolitical control of the State concerned, construction, security, energy and mining companies from the Western evaluating countries will surely be able to enter to “rebuild” the country’s infrastructure and reactivate its economy. Don’t you think so? Let us read again an excerpt from the ICISS report: “to offer after a military intervention …, assistance for recovery, reconstruction and reconciliation”[7].

The responsibility to rebuild would be a consequence, inevitable and desired by many, of the Responsibility to Protect. We are talking about rebuilding the infrastructure and economy that these compassionate countries destroy with their bombs, missiles, tanks and economic sanctions. The objectives and the strategy for which they intend to use the Responsibility to Protect are obvious. Yet, there are many countries that are unwilling or unable to notice this, and support resolutions to advance the development of a doctrine dangerous to their own existential interests.

The hegemonic powers would have a sort of menu, an à la carte order to take advantage of complex human rights situations (including induced ones) by opening the legal doors to a “compassionate military intervention”. This situation does not allow to offer any kind of guarantees of justice, impartiality and transparency, which would correspond to a beneficent and truly protective procedure. It is intended to establish a “preventive” discretionality, when the possible occurrence of a “judiciable” fact that can be prosecuted is presumed. This is an advantageous permeability for the hegemon between the world of geopolitical domination and that of human rights, as if they belonged to the same nature, in order to provide it with legitimacy and a presumed legality, when the truth is that they are intrinsically and necessarily antagonistic. Nor is it defined how the responsibility of the State is transferred to the international community, so that it may protect the citizens of that State, without its prior acquiescence[8].

The Commission of experts also established a series of criteria for authorizing the use of force, under the Responsibility to Protect: the use of force: competent authority, just cause, right intention, last resort, proportional means and reasonable possibilities[9]. The competent authority is the Security Council. However, the key is how to determine the justness of the cause and how to verify that its proponents do it with correct intentions. How to qualify as just or correct the use of force, without the authorization of the State concerned? Who guarantees proportionality in the use of force and is responsible for excesses? The fact that it is assumed as an option of last resort is logical and gives the doctrine a substantially preventive character. However, how are diplomatic and economic coercive measures prior to the use of force evaluated and considered effective, or not?
https://isrobinson.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/japortada-1-e1626999455819-1024x522.jpgNATO bombing turned the Libyan city of Benghazi into a ruin of rubble. (Photo: Reuters)

The implementation of this Doctrine has been questioned by many UN member countries. The disastrous intervention in Libya in 2011 was based in the Security Council precisely on Responsibility to Protect arguments. Since 2005, the Council had approved several resolutions authorizing the use of force in African countries, but not under the allegations of this doctrine. Only in the case of Sudan was this motivation used. No one, not even the Western media, can deny that the result of such a collective action, to the detriment of Libya’s sovereignty, left in its wake a serious political, economic and humanitarian crisis, accompanied by the fracturing of the country, clashes between factions, massive migration towards the Mediterranean, absolute violation of the human rights of the population and the proliferation of terrorist groups in the region. All the reservations and objections that had been theoretically exposed in the debate on the risks of the pseudo-doctrine under study, were verified in the sad and catastrophic reality. For the peoples and the true International Community, what happened in Libya can rather be qualified as the Irresponsibility to Unprotect. The promptness of the Security Council’s decision left no room for preventive measures. A bloodbath that protected no one, destroyed everything and has lasted to this day, was endorsed at the time by the United Nations[10]).

Resolution 1973 of the UN Security Council, presented by France and the United Kingdom, was controversial. Russia, China, India, Germany, Brazil and abstained, the resolution was not blocked by a vote against by any of the permanent members (veto). The abstentions were largely the result of the lack of prior coercive measures and peace initiatives on the ground, precisely to avoid the use of force. The Arab League pushed for armed intervention. From every angle it was a hasty decision. Finally, with the approval of a no-fly zone, NATO took over military operations with the use of sophisticated lethal weapons, bombing, missiles, with the alleged intention of neutralizing the Libyan military forces. Thus opening the doors, still open today, to a hell on earth. A few days later, albeit belatedly, the countries that abstained expressed their reservations about the lack of proportionality in NATO’s military actions [11].

A few weeks after that erratic decision, the Security Council also approved the use of force through the Responsibility to Protect in Côte d’Ivoire. Although the attention of the case was different and there were calls and spaces for the negotiated resolution of that complex internal conflict, time showed that the UN supported with its intervention one of the parties, while it was confirmed that both had incurred in similar practices of massive crimes against human rights[12]).

Despite the failure of this UN operation, after the intervention in Libya, several resolutions approving the use of military force have been adopted (Ivory Coast, Mali, South Sudan, Somalia, Central African Republic, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo), while between 2005 and 2011 only one intervention was approved under that motivation[13]. In other words, contradictorily, the resounding failure of a UN-permitted action whose excesses and millions of continued crimes have gone unpunished, has not prevented the continued invocation of this doctrine. The possibility of promoting collective violence by the powerful, through the Responsibility to Protect, continues to be accepted. It must be recognized, however, that there has been no repetition of large-scale Western military intervention. In favor of the sense of the common good, the use of force was not authorized by the Security Council in the cases of Syria and Yemen. The lesson of Libya has at least limited the scale of R2P-based decisions and actions.
https://isrobinson.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/j3.jpgThe destruction of Libya resulted in a forced increase in migration and its exploitation from a slave logic. (Photo: Taha Jawashi / AFP / Getty Images)

The Responsibility to Protect conflicts with at least three of the fundamental principles of Public International Law (PIL). There is no practical equality among the nations of the world, in their daily political exercise. Simón Bolívar, when referring to the need to equalize citizens, was referring to established and practiced equality. In geopolitics, equality is indeed established as an essential principle of coexistence among nations, but it is evident that it is not a practiced equality, not even considered by the powerful. It also undermines the sacred right of states to exercise sovereignty and self-determination and even independence. The Responsibility to Protect is one of those ways that, while claiming to be part of the normative body of PIL, in practice tends to liquidate it. The pretension of its application to relativize the quality of self-determination of peoples in their sovereign States should be a global wake-up call. Human rights are a delicate and fundamental area within the United Nations system. It is the task of all States to ensure the correct management of this agenda and its derivations. The partial and biased use of this agenda for the purpose of intervening in the internal affairs of member countries is an act disloyal to international coexistence.

In analyzing the Responsibility to Protect, Professor Juan Manuel Rivero Godoy asks the following questions:

1) In what cases must action be taken? 2) How is it determined when action must be taken? 3) Who will act to fulfill the purpose of the Charter? 4) What will be the limits of the action? 5) Who is accountable for excesses and how? 6) What are the real objectives of the intervention?[14] The same author concludes that: “the Charter is not a mere avenue of action”.

The same author concludes: “the responsibility to protect lacks a concrete normative delimitation that would be useful in the cases in which it must be applied”. We add: beyond precise or effective regulations, there are no political (and geopolitical) conditions or unassailable legal foundations that can justify the adoption of such a dangerous mechanism as valid in such an unequal world.

As in other matters, the debate has extended to the point of considering that, although the Security Council is the only body with the power to analyze cases in which the use of force could be considered, its political composition and the right to veto would prevent the application of the Responsibility to Protect, for which reason they propose that this power be transferred to the General Assembly, claiming its more democratic and broad character. This proposal seeks to neutralize the right of veto of the permanent members of the Security Council and replace it with what would apparently be a decision of a more legitimate and democratic body.

The proponents seem to (or want to) ignore the coercive power, threats and political pressure that Western powers often impose on member states in decision-making in the General Assembly. If they do so openly in resolutions of little impact or in the election of positions and spaces in the UN bodies, we cannot even guess the size of the extortive pressure they would apply to approve a military operation that responds to their geopolitical and economic interests. This apparent “more democratic” proposal could lead to the expansion of the unilateral tyranny that imperialist powers usually impose within multilateral bodies.

Our America and the Responsibility to Protect

The dominant role of the United States globally “could not be exercised if any powerful and virulent nation is allowed to organize its part of the world according to a philosophy contrary to our own.”[15] The United States’ dominant role globally “could not be exercised if any powerful and virulent nation is allowed to organize its part of the world according to a philosophy contrary to our own.15]

Memorandum from Robert McNamara to President Lyndon Johnson.

The American continent deserves special mention when referring to disguised intervention modalities. Washington defines America as the Western Hemisphere (we still do not understand the meaning and validity of this expression). This “hemisphere” has been officially considered a zone of US influence and control since 1823, through the well-known Monroe Doctrine. If we add to this that in 1845 they developed the thesis of Manifest Destiny, according to which the US is predestined to dominate the world and to spread (or impose) its model of society, economy and property, thanks to its superiority and closeness to God, we can deduce the role that would correspond to the territories immediately surrounding the US under this supremacist viewpoint: the backyard. Not content with this, President Theodore Roosevelt fed the annexationist thesis of Washington’s domination of Latin America and the Caribbean. The Roosevelt Corollary of 1904 establishes the following:

Policy toward other nations of the Western Hemisphere: It is not true that the United States has a hunger for land or that it has an interest in anything concerning the other nations of the Western Hemisphere except for their welfare. All that this nation desires is to see neighboring nations stable, orderly and prosperous. Any nation whose people behave well with themselves can count on our heartfelt friendship. If a nation shows that it knows how to act with reasonable efficiency and decency in social and political affairs, and if it maintains order and pays its obligations, it need not fear any interference from the United States. Chronic malfeasance, resulting in a general loss of the bonds of a civilized society, whether in America or anywhere else, will ultimately require the intervention of some civilized nation[16].

The Roosevelt Corollary has been fulfilled to the letter in Our Latin America and the Caribbean, through countless invasions, destabilizations, coups d’état and conspiracies of all kinds. Note the similarities of the notion of Responsibility to Protect with that old Corollary of US foreign policy. Latin American and Caribbean states need not fear US interference if they behave in a “decent and reasonably efficient” manner (especially when paying their ill-gotten debts to the countries of the North). But, in addition, if Washington perceives that the “bonds of a civilized society” have been “lost”, it will have the right to intervene. And not only the US could do so, Roosevelt opened the door for “other civilized nations” to do the same: what today would be understood as the International Community, a concept of notorious ambiguity, which the Western powers have abrogated when it comes to expressing an opinion or meddling collectively in the affairs of sovereign states.
https://isrobinson.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/j4.jpgU.S. Marines occupying the Dominican Republic in 1965, seizing a passerby. (Photo: Harry Benson)

The Organization of American States (OAS) became the instrument par excellence for Washington to count on the endorsement of its subordinate governments to obtain the green light for its meddling ambitions, disguising them with the opaque colors of a supposed regional multilateralism. It is rather one of the many modalities of group unilateralism, as described by Professor Antonio Remiro Brotons, which the U.S. has used to justify its interventionist actions. In recent years, the ineffable Luis Almagro, as Secretary General of the OAS, resolutely promoted the application of the Responsibility to Protect with the aim of generating the conditions for a US military intervention in Venezuela, endorsed by the OAS, through the outdated and never applied Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, TIAR. No one doubts at this point what interests Almagro responds to, who pays him and what he intends to do.

The highly unvirtuous OAS has already committed similar excesses under humanitarian pretexts. In 1965, the OAS authorized the sending of a “humanitarian mission” to the Dominican Republic. A few doctors and collaborators arrived, accompanied by thousands of U.S. Marines who, in order to prevent the reinstatement of the Constitution and the return of the legitimate President, Juan Bosch, the then President of the United States, Lyndon Johnson, in the good style of the Roosevelt Corollary, recognized that the U.S. invasion was being carried out “so that the Dominican Republic would not become a second Cuba”.

The humanitarian justification, first to protect U.S. citizens in the Dominican Republic, and then to “protect the people”, was nothing more than an obvious cover for an ideological intervention, which led to death, constitutional rupture and the imposition of a repressive government obedient to Washington. Such was the brazenness of the surrender, that in 2016, the OAS itself agreed to a declaration in reparation to the Dominican people, for the role that the Organization played in 1965 by endorsing such a bloody political invasion.

Returning to Venezuela, between 2015 and 2020, the Secretary General of the OAS even convened a series of “experts” with two objectives in mind. On the one hand, to give argumentative support to the ideologized and flawed complaint filed before the ICC by a group of right-wing governments against Venezuelan officials. This action, of course, was ordered from the U.S. capital. Simultaneously, in an absurd manner, and in view of the unfeasibility of even discussing a military intervention against Venezuela in the Security Council (absurd in itself and which would never have the support of Russia and China), Almagro and the small group of satellite governments of Washington tried to apply the prospect of the Doctrine of Responsibility to Protect in Latin America, through the activation of a regional Military Treaty. The Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, TIAR, signed in 1947 and never invoked, was revived by this group of countries in their anti-Venezuelan obsession. They even convened meetings of Foreign Ministers for its application. In this way, they intended to violate not only the OAS Charter, but also the UN Charter, Article 53 of which makes any decision by regional organizations to take coercive measures against a UN member state subject to the authorization of the UN Security Council. The Charter does not even mention, and therefore does not endorse, military operations agreed by regional bodies against another state.

It is worth asking: Will Washington and its satellites have any real concern for human rights in Venezuela, or do they have many interests in oil, gas, gold, water, diamonds, coltan and regional geopolitical control? Do they act with objectivity and ideological tolerance? Have they respected the self-determination of the Venezuelan people? Has the human rights situation in Venezuela actually suffered any overflow of the capacities of the competent national institutions? Would Washington intervene in Venezuela to protect the people, or to consolidate its dominance and unspeakable interests? The answers are so obvious that we know that the reader assumed the questions as an ironic didactic resource of the author. What is more, what the US and its subordinate governments have done is to apply a financial and commercial blockade of such magnitude against Venezuela, that it has been brought by Caracas before the ICC in view of the effects of the systematic and massive violation of human rights of these so-called sanctions, alleging with ample evidence that they constitute crimes against humanity against all Venezuelans.

Regarding the long-awaited phase of Responsibility to Rebuild in the Venezuelan case, it is enough to recall the words of John Bolton, Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor in 2019, when he admitted that U.S. oil companies were ready to enter Venezuela, at the moment of an exit of the government of Nicolás Maduro. In this way they ensured the best spoils of their “protective war”. The motivations of the West were so evident that the UK Foreign Office quietly created an Office for the Reconstruction of Venezuela[17].

The example of Venezuela illustrates the ease with which the Responsibility to Protect can be used to attack a country for reasons unrelated to the human rights situation, although argued under such a malleable and diffuse umbrella. If the principles of Public International Law were rigorously respected, if the Charter of the United Nations were a sacred instrument for all equally, perhaps, then, in an ideal situation that seems unfeasible today, the discussion of a collective Doctrine for the protection of Human Rights could be seriously considered. But to give this debate and to advance along this path in today’s world, is not only nonsense, but the naive granting of a license of mass destruction for the Western powers, with the aim of creating situations that allow them to dominate and control countries and natural resources with ease, under the false endorsement of a supposed concern for human rights. Let no one be deceived. There have already been enough bloody and cruel demonstrations of inhuman power by the Western powers in power to delegate to them the power to deal with such delicate national and human situations.
https://isrobinson.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/j5.jpgThe oil factor is an ever-present variable in US military interventions. (Photo: Haidar Mohammed Ali / AFP / Getty Images)

It is imperative to strengthen state capacities to guarantee human rights. Let us consolidate the role of nation states. In recent decades they have tried to undermine it by financing non-governmental actors, with agendas that often coincide with the purposes of those who finance them. It is essential for the United Nations to ensure compliance with its own Charter. We cannot take this lightly; we cannot weaken the UN and turn it, in practice, into the Donors’ Organization or a platform for NGOs. The national interests of the peoples are expressed in the States. The other actors can complement state action, not replace it, much less attack it and submit it to the will of private interests and corporate hegemonic states. From these combined actions of actors outside the national interest, it is possible to generate situations and fabricate matrices of “humanitarian concern”, in order to apply, at convenience, the Responsibility to Protect.

For this and other reasons of historical weight, from Venezuela we consider important the creation of the Group of Countries in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, to bring these major issues to the forefront of public opinion, the academic world, social movements, as well as within the UN General Assembly and in the chambers of the Security Council and the Human Rights Council, without false premises, or compassionate fantasies, without hypocrisy, without hidden agendas, without euphemisms. The decisions taken today could open or close the doors to a world of respect and peaceful coexistence. From the Global South we must neutralize any new tool of legalization of armed interventions for geopolitical or ideological purposes. Legitimizing and legalizing a doctrine that seeks to violate the most sacred principles of International Law with the supposed purpose of saving lives through the use, or rather abuse, of force, is an unacceptable contradiction for those of us who believe in peace and coexistence with respect for diversity.

Falling into the Western trap by endorsing the Responsibility to Protect is tantamount to killing the UN Charter through a suicidal action (consciously or not) of some States against their own sovereignty and self-determination. By their unchanged and unalterable nature, the only thing the Western ruling elites of the Global North know how to protect are their interests and profits. Too many proofs of this have been given throughout history. Let no one be deceived! Today more than ever, the main responsibility of peoples and sovereign states is to protect the principles of the UN Charter, to protect the right to life, to human rights, to the future, to peace.

We must advance in the alternative to the Responsibility to Protect, always within the normative framework of the founding Charter of the UN. Rigorous diplomatic methods, the promotion of dialogue between the parties in conflict, the political commitment of the UN bodies to a peaceful solution, the role of neighboring countries and regional and sub-regional organizations, attention to the victims. Positive, concerned, dedicated, truly humanitarian international pressure, without simultaneous plans for regime change or the search for lucrative gains in the reconstruction processes. Let us look at the cases of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya. They have been blows to the Charter of the United Nations and to the countries attacked, to humanity as a whole. From the United Nations, let us learn to make policy and build peace. Not to make war and impose a certain style of peace and model. Peace Diplomacy is the path of the peoples. Let us not mistake the means and the actors. Let us be just and humane. Be vigilant!
SirteSirte, Libya destroyed by NATO bombardments in 2011


↑1 This paper was prepared by the U.S. Department of Defense and was authored by I. Lewis Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, and Zalmay Khalilzad. It represents one of the first intellectual frameworks of the neoconservatives in the post-Cold War era.
↑2 Kennan, George. “Review of current trends in U.S. foreign policy,” Policy Planning Staff, No. 23, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1948, volume 1, part 2. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1976, pp. 524-525.
↑3 Bosch, Juan. (2005). El pentagonismo: sustituto del imperialismo, Dominican Republic, Aguilar.
↑4 Davies, Nicolas (2010). Blood on Our Hands, Nimble Books, p. 54.
↑5 Sixtieth session of the United Nations General Assembly. (2005). “2005 World Summit Outcome Document,” A/RES/60/1, p. 33. Retrieved from https://undocs.org/es/A/RES/60/1
↑6 Rivero Godoy, Juan Manuel. “The Responsibility to Protect, Security Council action and the defense of human rights: critique of the international system”, Revista Misión Jurídica, Vol. 10, Nº13, 2017, p. 161. Retrieved from https://www.revistamisionjuridica.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/6-La-responsabilidad-de-proteger.pdf
↑7 Idem, p. 165.
↑8 Añaños Meza, María Cecilia. “The United Nations’ Authorized Military Intervention in Libya: A Precedent for the Responsibility to Protect?”. International Studies, Vol. 45, Nº174, 2013. Retrieved from https://www.scielo.cl/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0719-37692013000100003
↑9 Villar Martín, Marta. “The Responsibility to Protect. Analysis of Security Council Resolutions 1973 and 1975”. Universidad Pontificia de Comillas, Madrid, 2018.
↑10 Resolution 1973. Adopted by the Security Council at its 6498th meeting, held on 17 March 2011. Retrieved from https://www.undocs.org/es/S/RES/1973%20(2011
↑11 García Martín, Isabel. “The Responsibility to Protect Principle: Does it imply a new exception to the use of force?”. Enfoques Journal, Vol. XV, Nº27, 2017.
↑12 Resolution 1975. Adopted by the Security Council at its 6508th meeting, held on 30 March 2011. Retrieved https://undocs.org/es/s/res/1975%20(2011
↑13 Jiménez i Botías, Elena. “The Responsibility to Protect after Libya”, Notes Internacionals, CIBOD, 155. Retrieved from https://www.cidob.org/es/publicaciones/serie_de_publicacion/notes_internacionals/n1_155/la_responsabilidad_de_proteger_despues_de_libia
↑14 Rivero Godoy, Juan Manuel. “The Responsibility to Protect, Security Council action and the defense of human rights: critique of the international system”, Revista Misión Jurídica, Vol. 10, Nº13, 2017, p. 164. Retrieved from https://www.revistamisionjuridica.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/6-La-responsabilidad-de-proteger.pdf
↑15 Gardner, Lloyd C. (2008). The Long Road to Baghdad. A History of U.S. Foreign Policy from the 1970s to the Present, New York, The New Press, pp. 12-13.
↑16 Morison, Samuel and Commanger, Henry. (1951). History of the United States of America. Mexico, Fondo de Cultura Económica, p. 451.
↑17 McEvoy, John. (May 13, 2020). “Revealed: Secretive British unit planning for ‘reconstruction’ of Venezuela”. The Canary. Retrieved from https://www.thecanary.co/exclusive/2020/05/13/revealed-secretive-british-unit-planning-for-reconstruction-of-venezuela/

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