Thursday, August 6, 2009

UN Address: Dialogue on the Responsibility to Protect

By Noam Chomsky

Address to the United Nations General Assembly Thematic Dialogue on the Responsibility to Protect, the United Nations, New York, 23 July 2009

"The discussions about Responsibility to Protect (R2P), or its cousin "humanitarian intervention," are regularly disturbed by the rattling of a skeleton in the closet: history, to the present moment.

Throughout history, there have been a few principles of international affairs that apply quite generally. One is the maxim of Thucydides that the strong do as they wish, while the weak suffer as they must. A corollary is what Ian Brownlie calls "the hegemonial approach to law-making": the voice of the powerful sets precedents.

Another principle derives from Adam Smith's account of policy-making in England: the "principal architects" of policy -- in his day the "merchants and manufacturers" -- make sure that their own interests are "most peculiarly attended to" however "grievous" the effect on others, including the people of England -- but far more so, those who were subjected to "the savage injustice of the Europeans," particularly in conquered India, Smith's own prime concern........"

No comments: