Failure of R2P in Syria and Myammar
Humanitarian catastrophes in Somalia in 1993, in Rwanda in 1994 and in Srebrenica in 1995 indicates a turning point at international relations. Those grave atrocities has paved the way for United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/1 (A/RES/60/1), adopted in 2005 regarding the principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P). R2P represent three pillars—the responsibility to prevent, to respond, and to rebuild. The purpose of the R2P was to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
R2P is not a source of binding international law, as none of the relevant R2P documents conforms to those sources of international law identified in Article 38 of the International Court of Justice. In addition to that, UN General Assembly resolutions are considered advisory rather than binding legal documents. However, they are significant while creation of customary international law. To be considered as customary law, R2P would require the repeated conduct of states, and a corresponding belief that such conduct is an opinio juris principle of international law.
Until the Rohingya and East Ghouta we may say there was continues and repeated application of States, which can turn R2P doctrine into the customary law. However, the lack of will and silence to address such gross atrocities perpetuated in these areas endangered this process.
Most recently, France, Britain, and the United States invoked “R2P” – as the responsibility to protect civilians– to explain their bombing runs against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s forces as they approached the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in 2011.
Started from the 2012, almost 700,000 ethnic Rohingya Muslims fled in terror from rampaging Myanmar troops. A top UN official said the military operation “seems like a textbook example” of ethnic cleansing. However, with the persistent objections by permanent member China, though, the UN Security Council could do nothing more than issue just a statement with no legal force condemning the “excessive use of military force.”
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the U.N.’s human rights chief, asked the U.N. General Assembly to refer the atrocities to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for prosecution and called on the Myanmar government to allow independent investigators into northern Rakhine to probe suspected “acts of genocide” against the Rohingya.
Yanghee Lee, the U.N.’s independent investigator on human rights in Myanmar, said there is more evidence to support suspicions that genocide has taken place, and she called for the prosecution of crimes committed against entire ethnic and religious groups
In March 2011, once civil war started in Syria, no one thought that it will prolong for such a long time (entered into eighth now). Since the conflict broke out in 2011, Russia and China have used eight times their veto power to hinder several UN resolutions meant to address crimes against humanity or war crimes. In the meantime, according to an estimate, the death toll in Syria has exceeded 465,000 people and over 12 million people have been displaced so far from their houses. Millions of Syrians have left their motherland as refugees in neighbouring countries and even to Europe under fear of being killed. Over 13.1 million Syrians remain in dire need of humanitarian assistance, with 3 million people in inaccessible areas; some are besieged by Government forces and rebels.
The UN’s Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria launched a report, which covered the human rights situation in the country during the period between July 2017 and January 2018. The report is based on 500 interviews conducted with victims and witnesses.
Syrian regime may have committed war crimes by using chemical weapons, denying medical evacuations in Eastern Ghouta, the report said. The UN war crimes investigators warned that continued chemical attacks by Bashar al-Assad regime and a Russian airstrike at a market place in Syria last year “may amount to war crimes.”
It is stated in the report that “characterized by pervasive war crimes, including the use of prohibited weapons, attacks against civilian and protected objects, starvation leading to severe acute malnutrition, and the routine denial of medical evacuations, the siege of eastern Ghouta continues to primarily affect the hundreds of thousands of civilians subsisting in the besieged enclave.”
In Libya earlier in 2011, when London, Paris, and Washington (known as P3) effectively transformed their UN civilian protection mandate in Benghazi into a regime-change mandate to unseat Qaddafi. However, there is not any political will and capacity to end humanitarian crisis in Syria and Myammar.
In 2011 US President Obama has declared that “preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States. However, two years later, when the Syrian Army crossed the “red line” that Mr. Obama had declared – using a chemical weapon, sarin gas, to kill hundreds of civilians in Ghouta – the US president did not carry through on his earlier threat to retaliate militarily.
The failure of R2P is not in the doctrine, but in the states that are unwilling to live up to their commitment to civilian protection.
 Office of the President of the General Assembly, ‘Concept note on the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity’, 17 July 2009, p. 1 (available online at http://www.un.org/ga/president/63/interactive/protect/conceptnote.pdf).
 Peter Malanczuk, Akehurst’s Modern Introduction to International Law, (New York: Routledge, 1997): 35
 UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria: Amid the ruins of Ar-Raqqah and Dayr al-Zawr, calls for justice and accountability by victims and families must be urgently addressed http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22766&LangID=E
 Peter Ford, “What Ghouta tells us about the world’s ability to protect civilians”, The CS Monitor, https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2018/0309/What-Ghouta-tells-us-about-the-world-s-ability-to-protect-civilians?platform=hootsuite