Saturday, May 17, 2008

As a Mega Catastrophe unfolds it is time to implement the UN's "responsibility to protect" doctrine and invade Burma now

UN's "responsibility to protect" doctrine calls on the international community to invade any country if its government is not protecting its people. This doctrine was agreed by the UN to ensure that no further Rwandas would occur.

So far the UN estimates that c102,000 Burmese have perished; some 220,000 are missing; and close to 2.5 million are in dire need of clean water, shelter, food and medical treatment. The British-based charity Save the Children Fund says that 216,000 Burmese died in cyclone Nargis and its aftermath, just 9,000 fewer than died in of all 11 countries hit by the 2004 Asian tsunami.

The paranoid regime has rebuffed most offers of aid from the international community and appears determined to keep out relief workers on the pretext that they might incite revolution amongst a hungry and cowed populace.The Burmese army has seized much of the aid, which has got through and distributed it to soldiers or sold it on the black market. The government has even obstructed the distribution of rice by some citizens.

Britain, France, Spain , Canada and the EU have been strongly critical. The criticism may be gaining in intensity but the reality is that the international community is too tardy in its response.

China as usual this week disgraced itself and obstructed efforts at the UN to pressurise the Burmese generals. Extreme pressure must be exerted on China to use its undoubted influence on the generals to ensure delivery of aid to a stricken populace. China must alter its policy of support for the Junta at the UN.

The US, Canada, Britain and France amongst others must implement the UN's "responsibility to protect" doctrine immediately and ensure the delivery and distribution of aid by military means. The time for diplomatic niceties has passed.

Many thousands have already perished because of the obduracy of the Burmese Junta. The world has a Mega Catastrophe on its hands.

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