responsibility to protect

Prague Spring: January 5 - August 21, 1968

Hungarian Uprising:  October 23 - November 10, 1956.

Benghazi:  February 21, 2011

Irving Cotler wrote about Libya and R2P in the New York Times (28 February 2011)The situation in Libya is a test case for the Security Council and its implementation of the RtoP doctrine. Yet it remains the case that, as the U.N. secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, put it, 'loss of time means more loss of lives'.  The Security Council must do more — and fast. It is our collective responsibility to ensure RtoP is an effective approach to protect people and human rights.

And when, in all the news reports, did Libyan anti-Gadaffi protesters become 'rebels',  semantically removing the sense of peaceful protest in favour of a word that has such violent confrontational references?   A civil society has been established in Benghazi, the first they have known.  Can one have rebellion against a rebel? For surely that was both Gadaffi's history and his present: violent confrontation in the pursuit of power.  We should be careful with our words.  Gadaffi supporters are advancing on and quelling supporters of civil society.  Would that make the responsibility to protect a little clearer?

Stephanie Whitewar