Who conducts interventions?
The key question of “who conducts interventions?” is omnipresent in all debates on humanitarian intervention. If there is a responsibility to protect, it is only natural to think that this requires a capacity to protect. While questions of morality were addressed in Chapter 2, and those related to the lawfulness and legitimacy of interventions in Chapter 3, the focus in this chapter is narrowly placed on material capabilities of interveners. No matter how legitimate a case for intervention for humanitarian purposes is, if there is no actor that is both willing and capable of tackling the mission, the victims are left without protection. Even with complete agreement to use force in last resort situations, there may be no capacity to deploy force available to protect in such cases. The lack of operational readiness is one of the main challenges faced when reaction is required in cases of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing. I examine the question of military capabilities necessary for civilian protection in peace operations from a purely utilitarian perspective. This is rooted in the initial focus of the study on assessing how the R2P framework addresses this contentious issue related to humanitarian intervention. I look at both the actors available and their resources, and at how the ICISS report and subsequent reformulations of R2P have addressed this key question. In line with the responsibility to protect framework, the premise of the chapter is that the use of force under the R2P banner is a measure of last resort. It is evident that the best way to address mass atrocities is to prevent their occurrence in the first place. Indeed, R2P’s objective is to decrease the frequency with which the protection of civilians from mass atrocities is dependent on the use of force by outsiders (Bellamy 2009). However, there are instances where the use of force is the only option left to provide protection. As the Secretary-General suggests in his 2009 report on implementing the responsibility to protect, when egregious crimes relating to R2P are committed, “collective military assistance may be the surest way to support the State in meeting its obligations . . . and, in extreme cases, to restore
its effective sovereignty . . . the early, targeted and restrained use of international military assets and armed forces may be able to save lives and bring . . . stability” (United Nations 2009a: 18, para. 40). In such cases, it is important to have the military capabilities required to act.