In collaboration with the West Africa Bureau of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics at DePauw University will host a symposium March 5-7, 2009 on humanitarianism and interventionism in Africa. We will explore such debates as the contested meanings of sovereignty and its non-interference principle, the human rights exception to the non-interference norm and the fears of a neo-imperial age which this exception engenders, the ethics of using military force for humanitarian purposes, etc.
Our interest is inspired in part by the impact of the (ex post facto) humanitarian justification for the Iraq War -- and that war's catastrophic humanitarian consequences -- on the discourse and practice of humanitarian intervention and the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine, in particular. We are also concerned with the difficult questions regarding the efficacy of current interventionist practices raised by the regular recurrence of humanitarian disasters, especially in Africa.
The use or abuse of humanitarian principles by state leaders and even some nongovernmental organizations for non-humanitarian purposes only reinforces arguments about the possible threats posed by an expanding human rights regime to international stability and to the rights of sovereign states. Critics point to the particular, perhaps unique, vulnerability of weaker states in the Global South. The enormous scale of suffering and loss of life caused by persistent disasters in Africa (e.g., Darfur, Somalia, Congo, Uganda) however, and Africa's peculiarly significant contribution to the Failed States phenomenon, demand our commitment to the effort at untangling this Gordian knot.
Some of the participants representing the academic, governmental/intergovernmental and nongovernmental domains include:
Karen Koning AbuZayd, Commissioner-General, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
Assefaw Bariagaber, Professor and Chair, The Whitehead School of Diplomacy & International Relations, Seton Hall University
Anne Orford, Professor and Director of the Institute for International Law and the Humanities at the Melbourne Law School, Melbourne University, Australia
Jerry Fowler, Executive Director, Save Darfur Foundation, founding director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum's Committee on Conscience
Hervé Ludovic de Lys, Head of Office, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, West Africa.
Other invited participants seeking to confirm scheduling include:
Francis Deng, Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide
Jan Egeland, Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on Climate Change, former Under-Secretary-General for the Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
The Honorable Lee Hamilton, Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington DC, and Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University; Commissioner, International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty
The Honorable Richard Lugar, United States Senator (R-IN), Ranking Member Committee on Foreign Relations
For more information email R2P@depauw.edu or phone
Brett R. O’Bannon 765.658.4157
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