The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

Reflecting on the Present Libya Crisis: Mapping a Future for #GenPrev and R2P

 STAND’s Pledge2Protect 2011 conference, a remarkable gathering of hundreds of anti-genocide activists, hosted an exceptional advocacy panel on the current U.S. intervention in Libya, the "responsibility to protect" doctrine, and the impact of the international community’s response on the future of the anti-genocide constituency. The panel comprised a variety of perspectives on the anti-genocide movement’s involvement in advocating for civilian protection and mass atrocities prevention in Libya: Sam Bell, the executive director of the Genocide Intervention Network/Save Darfur Coalition; Naomi Kikoler, from the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect; and Nate Wright, one of STAND’s co-founders (alongside Martha Bixby, who moderated the panel).

The panel addressed a number of difficult questions on the Libya crisis, regarding the metrics for success in the intervention, the identity of the Libyan opposition movement, the effectiveness of multilateral military force in other conflicts, and, importantly, the question of consistency in the "responsibility to protect" doctrine’s application. However, the most poignant comment came from Naomi Kikoler, speaking on the importance of genocide and mass atrocities prevention. As Naomi noted in her presentation, the international community needs to get better at prevention. Military intervention in Libya was a last resort–the UN Security Council approved the use of force for civilian protection because the international community’s prior economic and political initiatives were not effective in restricting the Qaddafi regime’s targeting of Libya’s civilian population. But before military intervention, before the international community even considered the prospect of a no-fly zone, there were risk indicators in Libya. These political and military factors hinted at the prospect of mass atrocity.

The international community can utilize a full spectrum of policy tools to de-escalate nascent conflicts, as well as prevent the occurrence of genocide and mass atrocities. An effective early warning system, interagency policy coordination, and preventive diplomatic efforts can contribute to the mitigation of civilian harm in conflict. As the P2P 2011 panelists observed, limited military force, while a useful tool of genocide and mass atrocities prevention and response, needn’t be the course of action. When the next crisis appears, the American foreign policy establishment, as well as the international community, can be prepared, so as to avert the protection of civilians through military means.


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