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mia farrow

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November 3, 2008

Responsibility to Protect

Smoothly, many in the international community lament Darfur's genocide but say that its solutions are beyond the boundaries of national interests and they invoke the concept of "national sovereignty." I contest that statement. The United Nations has, in 2006, clearly stated that the international community, through the United Nations, has the responsibility to "protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity."

"Responsibility to protect" means the international community must "react" when states are unable or unwilling to protect those living within their borders. The international action can be political, diplomatic, economic or military. The latter should be at the ready in "extreme and exceptional cases," which it defines as "cases of violence which ... shock the conscience of mankind."

The responsibility to protect has redefined the concept of sovereignty by clearly stating that it involves not only the rights of nation states, but the responsibilities of civilian protection they bear. The responsibility to protect marks the end of centuries of inviolate borders and impunity within them. In principle.

The reality is something else. Over my 10 trips to the Darfur region since 2004, I have seen men, women and children fleeing for their lives. In terror they fled their burning homes, in terror they endured the rapes and unthinkable atrocities. In terror and dread they await the next attacks. In terror they have waited for more than five unthinkable years for protection that has not come.

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