Responsibility to protect – undertake military action to prevent Gaza displacement

Consider this as part and parcel of the UN’s “responsibility to protect” (R2P) doctrine under international law.

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Published by AstroAwani, image by AstroAwani.

Arab and the Muslim countries, particularly from the region, must take undertake concerted military action to prevent the displacement of Palestinians from Gaza.

Consider this not only a sacred duty, but also a humanitarian obligation to prevent genocide under international law and the annihilation of the two-state solution.

Just as crucial, consider this as part and parcel of the United Nations (UN)’s “responsibility to protect” (R2P) doctrine under (modern) international law.

R2P isn’t exactly a novel idea, as mentioned in EMIR Research article, “The US must compel Israel to cease and desist from genocide” (February 15, 2024).

It’s grounded and based on paragraphs 138 and 139 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution (adopted on September 16).

Paragraph 139 reads: “The international community, through the [UN], also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the [UN] Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, [the UNGA] are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the [UNSC], in accordance with the [UN] Charter, including Chapter VII [with Articles 41 and 42 as especially relevant here], on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

Paragraph 139 went on to state that the UNGA “… stress the need … to continue consideration of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the [UN] Charter and international law. [The UNGA] also intend to commit … as necessary and appropriate, to helping States build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and to assisting those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out”.

As it is, the US, the UK and the EU are all completely beholden to the Zionist lobby and unwilling to stop the Zionist State of Israel from continuing to carry out acts of aggression, genocide and terror in Gaza – preferring to dilly-dally and prattle about a not prolonging the situation any longer and calling for at the minimum a temporary ceasefire so as to allow for the release of hostages by Hamas and for aid to flow in.

Note that the call for a ceasefire now isn’t so much due to the horror at the deaths (let alone the death toll itself), carnage and mayhem.

But the concern is more for the international reputation of what can be confirmed as the pariah State of Israel.

That the US together with the UK as the leading permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)’s P5 core aren’t bothered about the stain to their international reputation and moral standing in continuing to be complicit in Israel’s aggression and genocide in Gaza is supremely ironic in and of itself

The US’s outright refusal to enforce the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in calling for the Zionist entity to “take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II [i.e., the meaning and definition of genocide] …, in particular: (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; and (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group” (under VI. Conclusion and Measures to be Adopted of the Order of the ICJ, pp. 22-26) is a damning indictment.

What’s happened to the (so-called) R2P doctrine as applied by the Anglo-American alliance – that’s in full display for all the world to see in the illegal invasion of Libya in 2011?

Why is it that the R2P doctrine has fallen into disuse in the case of Gaza?

Take the UK – the second member of the Anglo-American alliance – for instance.

The country was gung-ho in wanting to intervene to ostensibly protect the civilian population from massacre by forces aligned to status quo, i.e., the Ghaddafi regime.

The way the R2P doctrine was bandied about then gave the impression that it’s something that’s never done before, properly speaking.

Actually, it’s all too conveniently “forgotten” that R2P has incipient roots in the period following the UK’s de-colonisation process. 

British military intervention in what was then Rhodesia in response to the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) by Ian Smith was strongly considered at one time, to given an example. Recall that Rhodesia was already self-governing then and, for all intents and purposes, a de facto de-colonised and semi-sovereign entity.

Closer to home, the British maintained a military presence in Singapore right up to 1971 (i.e., five years after the island republic’s independence). The last of British military personnel and assets withdrew only in 1976.

The Five-Power Defence Agreement (FPDA) could well be considered as an implicit form of R2P in its initial stages.  

We had the “police action” in 1950 by the US-led UN forces on the Korean peninsula in response to the surprise invasion launched by the Communist North.  

Now, in returning to the present day, we can clearly see that owing to the historic intransigence of the US in pre-empting any form of sanctions or punitive measures against the Zionist entity, enforcement will have to come from outside the UNSC.

This entails and includes the use of military force no less – either as a containment (blocking) measure and/or in retaliation (punitive).

The deliberate refusal of the US to take any form of action whatsoever against Israel which has been behaving as a pariah state is, to repeat the oft-times highlighted truism, rank hypocrisy of the highest order and morally unacceptable/unjustifiable and criminal in its own right.

EMIR Research has long advocated for military intervention in Occupied Palestine as exemplified in the article, “Multinational Islamic defence force (MIDF) as a response to the politics of Apartheid Zionists Israel” (May 19, 2021).

We had called for the formation of a Multinational Islamic Defence Force (MIDF) – which can initially come from Arab and Muslim countries in the region – to assume the responsibility of securing justice and peace in the immediate region.

At the same time, there should an international peace-keeping force (under the auspices and banner of the UN) to be immediately dispatched to protect the civilians in the Palestinian Territories from terrorism by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) and their “auxiliary units” in the form of the settlers.

The MIDF could substitute for the international peace-keeping force at the later stage when the time comes – and could well have a “permanent” presence if need be.

Countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Syria and even Lebanon (if not the regular armed forces due to opposition from the Phalangists, then Hezbollah) alongside Turkey should play leading roles in the formative process.

Even though the dream of a political union known as the United Arab Republic (UAR) between Egypt and Syria has long been shattered, both countries can still revive close cooperation, especially where strategic interests overlap (e.g., Egypt’s need to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the Sinai Peninsula and Syria’s need to recover the Golan Heights).

On its part, Malaysia has been calling for the veto in the UNSC to be scrapped.

On March 8, 2024, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the UN, H.E. Ahmad Faisal Muhamad had reiterated the country’s call for the UNSC veto to be abolished at the Intergovernmental Negotiations Meeting on the Security Council Reform.

In what’s a bold and unprecedented move, H.E. Ahmad Faisal Muhamad articulated the need for an interim period until such time when the veto can be completely abolished.

Specifically, Malaysia “asserts that the [utilisation] of the veto by [UNSC] members … be regulated, preventing it from being used unjustifiably, or abused. [That is], the application of veto should be prohibited in situations involving mass atrocity crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes”.

Unabashedly, our ambassador to the UN unequivocally asserted that “… [Malaysia] firmly believes that the veto is incompatible with a contemporary and democratic multilateral framework, reiterating [the] call for its ultimate total abolition”.

It’s hoped that other countries will follow suit in joining Malaysia’s call for the veto to become “extinct” in due course.

Indeed, when exercised, the veto has been a long-standing obstacle for the UN in achieving and working towards a more equitable and fairer and peaceful world order.

The maintenance and upholding of international peace, security and order together with the promotion of human rights and enforcement of humanitarian provisions in cases of famine, natural disasters and armed conflict can’t be fully realised as long the veto is in place (“Abolish UNSC’s veto power”, Dr Muzaffar Syah Mallow, New Straits Times, October 25, 2023).

It has become an emblem of the disenfranchisement and disempowerment of UNGA comprising the member-nations – as their collective will has been time and again emasculated.

In the meantime, Egypt should now seek to revive its historic and strategic ties with Syria (as backed by Iran in the background) and together with Jordan and Turkey work towards establishing the MIDF to push back against Zionist aggression and genocidal atrocities and prevent the full displacement of the Palestinians from Gaza.

Jason Loh Seong Wei is Head of Social, Law & Human Rights at EMIR Research, an independent think tank focussed on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.

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