The doctrine of the international community's responsibility to protect the citizens of a country whose government has failed them has strengthened the presumption in favour of international intervention for humanitarian reasons.
Sir John Holmes asks: 'When can international intervention be justified and effective?'Since the Rwandan genocide, the development of the doctrine of the international community's 'responsibility to protect' the citizens of a country whose government has failed them has strengthened the presumption in favour of international intervention for humanitarian reasons. At the same time the problems and failures in Iraq and Afghanistan have strengthened the arguments against such intervention. Both sides have seen in the case of Libya, while Syria has left everyone cautious but frustrated. Where does the debate now stand, and in what circumstances can intervention be both in accordance with international law, and successful?Sir John Holmes GCVO, KBE, CMG is the Director of the Ditchley Foundation and co-chair of the International Rescue Committee UK. He is the former UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. A career diplomat, he has served the British government for more than thirty years and has extensive experience on conflict. Having worked on the Lebanon and Middle East peace processes, he was awarded a knighthood in 1998 primarily for his role in the Northern Ireland Peace Process and the Good Friday Agreement. He served as Private Secretary (Overseas Affairs) to John Major before becoming Principal Private Secretary to Tony Blair in 1997.