Humanitarian Intervention

Be it resolved, if countries like Sudan, Somalia, and Burma will not end their man-made humanitarian crisis, the international community should...

December 1, 2008

Munk Debate members have access to past debate media downloads. Premium and Basic members have access to all full length video, transcript and podcast downloads.

To view more content, log in or become a member.

In a world of failed and failing states, does the international community and Canada have a responsibility to intervene, including militarily, in the affairs of nations that grossly fail to protect their citizens' human rights? Or, have we learned in recent years that the use of force against sovereign states necessarily creates more problems that it solves?

The second Munk Debate explored the merits and pitfall of humanitarian interventions by debating the resolution: If countries like Sudan, Somalia and Burma will not end their man-made humanitarian crises, the international community should.

The Results

Pre-Debate

77%

Pro

23%

Con

Post-Debate

68%

Pro

32%

Con

CON gains 9%. CON wins

The Debaters

Gareth Evans

Gareth Evans

Pro

"The core idea of the responsibility to protect is very simple. Turn the notion of "right to intervene" upside down. Talk not about the "right" of big states to do anything, but the responsibility of all states to protect their own people from atrocity crimes, and to help others to do so."

Gareth Evans

Gareth Evans

Pro

"The core idea of the responsibility to protect is very simple. Turn the notion of "right to intervene" upside down. Talk not about the "right" of big states to do anything, but the responsibility of all states to protect their own people from atrocity crimes, and to help others to do so."

Gareth Evans is the President and Chief Executive of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG), an independent multinational non-governmental organisation with 90 full-time staff on five continents which works, through field-based analysis and high-level policy advocacy, to prevent and resolve deadly conflict.

A member of the Australian Parliament for 21 years Gareth Evans was one of Australia's longest serving Foreign Ministers, best known internationally for his roles in developing the UN peace plan for Cambodia, bringing to a conclusion the international Chemical Weapons Convention, founding the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and initiating the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

In 2000 and 2001, Evans was co-chair of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), appointed by the government of Canada, which published its report, The Responsibility to Protect, in December 2001.

He was a member of the UN Secretary General's Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, is a member of the Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction sponsored by Sweden and chaired by Hans Blix, and of the International Task Force on Global Public Goods, chaired by Ernesto Zedillo. He had previously served as a member of the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, co-chaired by Cyrus Vance and David Hamburg (1994-97), and is currently a member of the UN Secretary-General's Advisory Committee on the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities.

He is an endorser of the Genocide Intervention Network and serves on the International Editorial Board of the Cambridge Review of International Affairs.

He was Australian Humanist of the Year in 1990, won the ANZAC Peace Prize in 1994 for his work on Cambodia, was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2001, and was awarded Honorary Doctorates of Laws by Melbourne Universityin 2002 and Carleton University in 2005.

Read Biography
Mia Farrow

Mia Farrow

Pro

"Does Mr. Spielberg really want to go down in history as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Beijing Games? Do the various television sponsors around the world want to share in that shame? Because they will. Unless, of course, all of them add their singularly well-positioned voices to the growing calls for Chinese action to end the slaughter in Darfur."

Mia Farrow

Mia Farrow

Pro

Does Mr. Spielberg really want to go down in history as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Beijing Games? Do the various television sponsors around the world want to share in that shame? Because they will. Unless, of course, all of them add their singularly well-positioned voices to the growing calls for Chinese action to end the slaughter in Darfur.

Not everyone reads a grim news story and gets on a plane to head for a war zone. But not everyone is Mia Farrow. The iconic actress has appeared in more than forty films, won numerous awards, and is widely known as Woody Allen's leading lady - starring in films such as Hannah and Her Sisters, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and Husbands and Wives.

Farrow has been a high profile advocate for children's rights, working to raise funds and awareness for children in conflict affected regions, predominantly in Africa. She is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and has worked extensively to draw attention to the fight to eradicate polio, which she survived as a child.

Her latest effort is miafarrow.org where she documents the atrocities in Darfur, Chad, and the Central African Republic and provides a guide on how to get involved.  She has visited Darfur and neighboring countries 6 times since 2004 and has led the effort to focus public attention onChina's support for the government of Sudan in the lead up to the Olympics. In direct response to a series of controversial op-eds written by Farrow, the Chinese government decided to withdraw their opposition to UN peacekeepers in the region and swayed by Farrow's campaign to pressure him, on February 12, 2008 filmmaker Steven Spielberg withdrew as an artistic adviser to the 2008 Olympics broadcast. During the Olympics broadcast, Farrow was televised via the internet from a Sudanese refugee camp to highlight China's involvement in the region.

In 2008, she was selected by TIME Magazine as one of the most influential people in the world.

Read Biography
John Bolton

John Bolton

Con

"We ought to be concerned about this so-called right of humanitarian intervention - a right of intervention that is just a gleam in one beholder's eye but looks like flat-out aggression to somebody else."

John Bolton

John Bolton

Con

We ought to be concerned about this so-called right of humanitarian intervention - a right of intervention that is just a gleam in one beholder's eye but looks like flat-out aggression to somebody else.

A diplomat, lawyer and fierce conservative advocate, Ambassador Bolton has had a distinguished career in the public service. From August 2005 to December 2006, he served as the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations.  The Economist called Bolton "the most controversial Ambassador ever sent by America to the United Nations."

From June 2001 to May 2005, Ambassador Bolton served as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. In this role, a key area of his responsibility was the prevention of proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Previous positions he has held are Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs at the Department of State, 1989-1993; Assistant Attorney General, Department of Justice, 1985-1989; Assistant Administrator for Program and Policy Coordination, U.S. Agency for International Development, 1982-1983; General Counsel, U.S. Agency for International Development, 1981-1982.

Bolton led the Bush administration's opposition on constitutional grounds to the International Criminal Court, negotiating with many countries to sign agreements with the U.S. to exempt Americans from prosecution by the Court, which is not recognized by the U.S. He has said the decision to pull out of the ICC was the "happiest moment" of his political career so far.

Bolton has been a prominent participant in some neoconservative groups such as the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), and the Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf (CPSG). But Bolton disputes the label "neo-conservative," pointing out that he was a conservative since high school, when he worked on the 1964 Goldwater campaign.

John R. Bolton currently serves as a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Read Biography
Rick Hillier

Rick Hillier

Con

"We're not the public service of Canada. We're not just another department. We are the Canadian Forces, and our job is to be able to kill people."

Rick Hillier

Rick Hillier

Con

We're not the public service of Canada. We're not just another department. We are the Canadian Forces, and our job is to be able to kill people.

Born in Newfoundland and Labrador, General Rick Hillier joined the Army at the age of 17.  Throughout his career, Gen Hillier has commanded troops from the platoon to division level and has worked as a staff officer at the National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. 

He has served throughout Canada, notably commanding the two-brigade commitment to the Red River floodings in 1997 and the CF commitment to the Quebec Ice Storm in 1998.

In 1998 Gen Hillier was appointed as the Canadian Deputy Commanding General of III Armoured Corps, US Army in Fort Hood, Texas. In 2000 he took command of the Multinational Division (Southwest) in Bosnia-Herzegovina. and has spent enough time with the United Nations and NATO forces in the former Yugoslavia to be eligible to vote there.

After returning to Canada, he assumed the duties of Assistant Chief of the Land Staff, and on May 30, 2003, assumed the duties of Chief of the Land Staff. In October 2003 Gen Hillier was selected as the next commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul, Afghanistan leading 6000 allied soldiers.

In 2005, Hillier was promoted to General and appointed Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), the highest position in the Canadian Forces.  At the time, about 600 troops were serving in the relative safety of the capital, Kabul.  Within three months, Canada was sending just over 1,200 troops to Kandahar and by April 2008, when Hillier announced he would step down as CDS, Canada had 2,500 troops committed to Afghanistan. By then, the mission had been extended twice.

The most outspoken Canadian military leader in a generation, and a tireless military advocate, Gen Hiller has undoubtedly raised the profile of Canada's military.

On July 3, 2008, Hillier began a term as Chancellor of the Memorial University of Newfoundland, his alma mater.

Read Biography

Video Highlights

Comments