Two movements – the international justice movement and the responsibility to protect. The notion of protection is an element that emphasises the victims. In the 90s there was a somewhat sterile debate on sovereignty and justice and the idea of the responsibility to protect has brought it out. The first responsibility lies with the state, but if the state is incapable then it lies with the international community.
Libya has been presented as a textbook example of how these things can work. A regime that was carrying out violence against its own people and the Security Council reacted. Libya is not a member of the ICC but the Security Council has the ability to enforce action under some circumstances. There was the question of when we intervened in Libya whether we would have to negotiate with Gaddafi or involve the international justice system, whereby it would become more complicated to get him out of power, as he’d know that he’d be prosecuted. In the end, however, it didn’t matter, because he refused to give up power. The other point is connected to the rebels – how far does the authorization of the Security Council extend – is it only for military support or also for removing Gaddafi from power? There were differing views on it.
There is a matter that involves the Security Council and which needs deliberation – is the responsibility to protect always under the remit of the Security Council or are there other ways? And how far does that responsibility extend?
In the case of Syria (where there was a slow response) there was one side who felt that a response from the Security Council would repeat the mistakes that were made in Libya and give too much support to the rebels, who would take advantage of it (they may have goals we might not support). On the international justice issue there are some countries that have called very strongly for a case to be started but most countries have been more hesitant. The UK has followed a pragmatic role of threatening a trial but has not acted upon it. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that there might be a case to refer but such an action would have a negative effect on reaching a conclusion to the present situation.
In any case, it is obvious that in these situations and in others, it is important to consider both sides of the coin and not only talk about international justice but also take into consideration the responsibility to protect as well.