Does the 'Responsibility to Protect' doctrine mean Canada is obligated to intervene militarily in Syria?

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The ability to get any food to those displaced and fleeing is a serious problem in Syria. And the food isn't the half of it ... Syria continues a downward spiral while an international community talks .. threatens .. muses ... worries and remains unmoving. What ever happened to Responsibility to Protect? And how irresponsible would military intervention be?



Does the 'Responsibility to Protect' doctrine mean Canada is obligated to intervene militarily in Syria? - Panel

Syria seems on the edge of the abyss. We aired some sound of a video posted on a social media site. It purports to show residents searching the rubble of Aleppo for children following an attack.

After nearly two years of fighting, the UN estimates as many as 60,000 people are dead ... 700,000 have fled and 4 million are displaced. Ertharin Cousin, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, is getting desperate.

If it's difficult to stand by and watch suffering, then it's been excruciating to witness the revolt against Bashar al-Assad. The UN Security Council is deadlocked, as Russia and China object to resolutions that censure the regime.

Yesterday, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak made headlines when he appeared to suggest that Israel was responsible for an airstrike on Syria. American officials have said the strike, which took place last Wednesday, hit a military research centre and a convoy of anti-aircraft weapons that were headed to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Officially, however, the international community has not intervened in Syria. But some say the world cannot continue to simply stand by. The U.N. commitment to the Responsibility to Protect doctrine implies the international community is compelled to intervene. It's a set of principles that frame sovereignty as a responsibility and not a right.

Lloyd Axworthy, Canada's former Minister of Foreign Affairs played a leading role in developing the R2P principles. And Lloyd Axworthy says when it comes to Syria, the world is long past due for action.

But others believe the Responsibility to Protect does not mean Canadian troops must march on Damascus. To talk more about R2P as it's known, we were joined by two people.

Kyle Matthews is the senior deputy director of the Will to Intervene Project at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia University. He was in Montreal.

And Paul Heinbecker is a former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations. He is a Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation and the Director at the Centre for Global Relations at Wilfrid Laurier University. He was in Ottawa.

This segment was produced by The Current's Gord Naheed Mustafa, Shannon Higgins and Hassan Santur.

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