Who Can Protect the Burmese?

12 May

Matthew Lee pursues the question of which countries can aid Myanmar, by what . The Burmese case doesn’t fall into the four categories, genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity, that would trigger R2P. That would rule out UN action. Mark Leon Goldberg, however, advocates : "…the international community is permitted to violate the sovereignty of a country when that country is unwilling or unable to prevent mass atrocities from being visited upon its own citizens."

Although , , according to Lee’s reporting. Spencer Ackerman confirms , and pleads for . I think Lee is onto a pertinent issue: not R2P, but how states disburse aid.

…developments this week lead Inner City Press to wonder why China does not develop and publicize its own humanitarian machinery, its own Chinese Bernard Kouchner. It could fly aid into Yangon, and film itself doing it. It could say, "we don’t need these Western NGOs, we’ll do it ourselves." Supposedly China hired a U.S. public relations firm to burnish its image. Where are they? Then again, the Chinese mission has not done an on-camera stakeout interview outside the Council since October 2007.

On the other hand, or foot, at the Security Council stakeout after China’s Amb. Liu said that China flew into Yangon "tents and money," one wag muttered, "And guns." Still another said that the French oil industry active in Myanmar ought to be delivering aid. We will continue to explore these issues.

There’s a difference between France’s hunger for limelight and PRC’s quiet approach. Could this be the foundation of a Bolton-PRC alliance against UN empowerment explicit in R2P? I’m not comfortable with the notion of world government, but that doesn’t rule out governance. There needs to be accountability somewhere, whether it’s Beijing’s responsibility or aid NGOs.

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4 Responses to “Who Can Protect the Burmese?”

  1. Brendan 12 May 2008 at 6:11 pm #

    I am not a lawyer, nor do I know how the UN defines “crimes against humanity,” but it seems to me that this category is being fulfilled by the junta’s refusal to allow aid workers in and to accept aid and distribute it as fast as possible.

    I am not at all sure that we should force our way into Burma to give aid — seems like an easy way to make a bad situation worse. And, if it turns out that China and India can get the job done while France and the US are forced to sit on the sidelines, fine by me.

    I did like that diavlog a lot.

  2. Bal(t)imoron 12 May 2008 at 6:34 pm #

    @Brendan:

    I think Lee’s point was, that neither OCHA nor France is helping the cause here. What’s missing is any confirmation of how the Burmese junta is distributing the aid it has received.

  3. Brendan 15 May 2008 at 9:12 pm #

    I guess it has become clear by now that the junta is not distributing the aid in any way approaching fair. Very sad, and very frustrating to feel so impotent.

  4. Brendan 15 May 2008 at 9:12 pm #

    I guess it has become clear by now that the junta is not distributing the aid in any way approaching fair. Very sad, and very frustrating to feel so impotent.

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