Did we even invite you? The debate over military intervention continues

The UN Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC) on the second floor – a committee of well over 100 delegates – is tackling the age old Shakespearian question with a twist: to be or not to be has become to invade or not to invade? ‘Tis the question on the floor. Delegates, now discussing a variety of working papers, must consider what constitutes an acceptable cause for intervention.

From the start, there was a clear problem, one plainly stated to Clarín by the dais during an unmoderated caucus: the papers are too similar. Save for one more non-interventionist proposal by China and Russia, all other working papers seem to agree that countries must toe the line between too little intervention and too much, and must only intervene under extreme circumstances. The delegate from Sierra Leone’s statement, “Negotiate first… then find any other way…. intervention is a last resort,” seemed to represent the common theme.

One working paper, titled Intervention as the Last Resort -“IRL”- states that governments should have the ability to consent to when outside military is sent into their country. The exception to this rule is if a country is violating the Geneva Convention – humanitarian laws. This policy begs the question as to what happens when the government of a country not violating human rights but still in desperate need of outside support decides not to allow foreign military aid. One supporting delegate from Venezuela explained that he hopes their plan will enable countries under military intervention to build up their economy and protect their people in order that, when the foreign military leaves, a power vacuum is not created.

Another bloc, with delegates such as Lithuania, Germany, and Australia, titled their working paper: “Security Bloc.”  The difference, one delegate from Lithuania described, between their paper and others is that they have provided for a formula they title the ‘Berundi algorithm’ which weights the pros over the cons of intervening. It is through this formula, Lithuania described, that the bloc will decide whether to intervene or not. This bloc also hopes to enhance the power of regional bodies, such as the African Union, the European Union, and NATO., which the bloc believes has the best understanding of their respective regional needs. Like the IRL, the Security Bloc working paper draws the line at human rights violations; if a country violates the Geneva Convention, it is automatic cause for intervention.

The two papers have their differences, yes, but their main policies, to draw the line on what constitutes necessary intervention and to end that line at violation of the Geneva Convention, are the same.

The most notably different paper, was that of China and Russia. Russia took a surprisingly lighter stance than expected – its delegate stating that while Russia is “pro-sovereignty”, the military can intervene if citizens are in danger; this is not in keeping with the normal hard line of pro-sovereignty. However, they sided with China, who more firmly drew the line. Referencing President Donald Trump’s recent ‘America first’ policy, the delegate from China remarked that as other countries step back from the global stage, China is prepared to take on more of a role as a global leader, in others’ affairs.However, in keeping with Chinese policy, the delegate reminded that even if China violates human rights, it is “not the UN’s problem” and it, and other countries to invade. On their end, China is fully pro-sovereignty.

Hopefully, this large committee can find the proper balance between intervention and non-intervention. It is not, and has never been, a black and white problem and the safety and sovereignty of all countries hangs in the balance.








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