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The Great Debate

WORLDWIDE | Thursday, 4 December 2008 | Views [568]

On Dec. 1, the second Munk Debate posed the following resolution to four esteemed panellists: “If countries like Sudan, Somalia, and Burma will not end their man-made humanitarian crises, the international community should…”

The panellists in favour of humanitarian intervention were Mia Farrow and Gareth Evans, and those against were John Bolton and Rick Hillier. I was a bit bummed that I missed the live debate at the Royal Ontario Museum but glad that I was at least able to catch some of the discussion points, thanks to the online G&M coverage. If you know me at all, you’ll know that I’m staunchly on Mia and Gareth’s side, albeit with a healthy Buckley’s-sized dose of John and Rick’s pragmatism.

In a time of increasing political, economic, and social complexity and interdependency, such dialogue is critical for the advancement of policy and practice for the betterment of humanity. Check out for yourself what the debate was about...

John Bolton, former US ambassador to the UN: “All will agree that there are situations of human suffering that deserve attention, but most are far removed from even the most expansive definition of ‘national interests’.”

Mia Farrow, actress, activist, and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador: “The only message we have sent to the Sudanese government is that… the world will watch and do nothing.”

Rick Hillier, retired general and Chief of the Defence Staff of the Canadian Forces: “I fear people want a quick fix to all the world's ills, but in the end, do not have the stomach for the types of action necessary to intervene responsibly and effectively.”

Gareth Evans, president and CEO of the International Crisis Group: “The new doctrine [‘the responsibility to protect’] wasn't a matter of the ‘right’ of the big players to throw their weight around, but the ‘responsibility’ of everyone to protect those at risk of mass-atrocity crimes.”


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