Matthew Lee pursues the question of which countries can aid Myanmar, by what the UN calls the "right to protect" (R2P). 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 a less rigorous criterion: "…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 western-donated aid is mostly stymied by Burmese authorities, Chinese and Indian-donated aid has reached Myanmar, according to Lee’s reporting. Spencer Ackerman confirms this willful obstructionism, and pleads for a solution, even by force. 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.