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domingo, 3 de junio de 2012

Syria, failed spring and inefficient international response

2011 and 2012 have been the years of the Arab spring; from Tunisia to Egypt, passing by Morocco, Sudan and Libya, we saw societies rising against tyrannical power and bringing about political change in their countries. In some countries those changes represented a major move towards democracy (like in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt), in others represented reforms without political rule change (like in Morocco). In some countries changes were more peaceful, in others a higher human and economic cost had to be paid. But there are other countries, like Syria, to which spring also came, but where spring has lasted too long and so far failed. Countries where thousands have died but where revolution has not succeeded. These last days we have seen the amount of deaths gone up dramatically in Syria. Assad´s government has not committed to its agreements and has even increased its offensive against the opposition. Even worse, it seems to show now not limits on the violence it inflicts on its own population. As I write, Assad himself addresses his parliament denying any responsibility, identifying any who does not agree with him as terrorist, and prioritizing “national security” above the lives of its own people. And from aside we stare and remain patient, waiting for more deaths to come. And I wonder what the international community pretends to do. What are we waiting for? For the governments of China and Russia to approve before any intervention? Why did the international community, even with military intervention, was so eager to bring about change in Libya but not in Syria? Was it the oil in Libya? Do we only intervene if there are economic incentives for us? When do human rights and the lives of hundreds and thousands who dye weekly come before geopolitics? Clearly diplomacy has failed. In Syria, the international community has first looked aside to then weekly respond with a dialogue that has gone nowhere and has just allowed the death of thousands more. The UN system seems not just ineffective today in humanitarian situations, like the one in Syria, its possibility for action is still anchored in national interests rooted in the past. Rather than focusing on the help the people of Syria need and on the prospects of international peace, we wait for Russia and China, as members of the Security Council, to find own incentives before allowing the international community to stop an ongoing genocide! That the international system needs reforms is clear and long said. We cannot longer rely on institutions from a post-World War II context like the Security Council. As other international institutions, the whole UN system has to adapt to new world and has to embrace new goals. Furthermore and in particular, the decision making processes has to change and become more effective. When unanimity of major countries is required for action, as is the case in the Security Council today, any conflict of interests blocks any initiative. Thus, the criteria for international response in front a given national genocide does not longer rely on the priorities for the suffering society but on the existence of mutual gains for the international ruling governments. The need for reform could not be clearer. As in the economic arena - where the global crisis has reflected our lack of suitable and effective international response - we need increased and improved global coordination, in the political and humanitarian arena we also need to overcome our incapacity to address national conflicts of dramatic magnitude that challenge international peace. Syria is the most recent example, but our incapacity in front of national genocides has been revealed before (like in Rwanda, the Balkans and the Middle East). We need to change and to act, and we need to do it now! In the meanwhile, the people of Syria are trapped in long “spring” that rather than bringing change and hope has become an already too long nightmare. In the meanwhile, Assad keeps on exterminating his so called “terrorist”. In the meanwhile the possibilities for future prosperity and peace in Syria fade away as they do and have done in other countries also left on their own by the rest of us.