Costa Rica calls for peaceful solution to crisis in Syria
Costa Rica has moral authority to speak on issues of authoritarian violence in Syria, writes guest blogger Jackie Briski, having experienced years of destructive civil war.
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2. The international community has the responsibility to assist a state if it is unable to live up to its own responsibility to protect.Skip to next paragraph
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3. When in conflict, the international community’s responsibility to protect is paramount.
The primary argument against R2P, understandably, is that it is a challenge to national sovereignty.
But sovereignty is a privilege, not a right, proponents assert. If a nation’s leaders fail to uphold their own responsibility to protect, it is the responsibility of the world community to intervene, because the national leaders have proven themselves unable or unwilling to accomplish their primary responsibility as leaders.
Costa Rica has a special type of moral authority to speak on these issues. After being torn by civil war, the military was abolished in 1948. While the Land of Pura Vida maintains small forces for law enforcement and foreign peacekeeping missions, a 1949 constitutional amendment made it literally unconstitutional to establish permanent standing armed forces in Costa Rica. Money that would go toward training and equipping the military has been invested in education and social services.
It is important to consider that a state that has no military is by nature nonviolent. Simply put, it is hard to regard the country as aggressive, given its lack of traditional arsenal or weaponry and trained personnel.
But it’s also in the national interest of Costa Rica to support the Responsibility to Protect and other international cooperation initiatives. As President Laura Chinchilla noted in her September 2010 remarks before the UN General Assembly, Costa Rica is completely dependent on universal respect for International Law and multilateral organizations for its national security.
Given that the UN resolution on Syria did not call for use of force (neither arming the rebels nor attacking the al-Assad regime directly), but rather supported the Arab League’s plan for a peaceful transition, it makes sense that Costa Rica would support the resolution so boldly.
– Jackie Briski is a Latin Americanist and author of the blog cuando asi no sea.
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