Russian President Medvedev, also supreme military commander, introduced an amendment to the Russian Defense Law to allow Russian armed forces to intervene beyond Russian borders. If the Duma, the Russian Parliament, accepts the amendment, Russian troops can be used abroad to “rebuff or prevent an aggression against another state” or “protect Russian citizens abroad.” The amendment was required to clarify the present law regarding the situation in Georgia. Critical voices in Russia said there was no legal basis to send troops to intervene in South Ossetia in 2008. The problem was solved by saying that Russia did not send an army but peacekeepers to the region.
The anniversary of the conflict in South Ossetia and recent tensions in the Caucasus made President Medvedev react. Russia always maintained that its intervention in Georgia was justified by the principle of “responsibility to protect” (R2P).
Mr Gareth Evans, enthousiastic supporter of this rather new humanitarian principle of R2P, has serious doubts about this interpretation. R2P was accepted in 2005 by the world leaders in UN General Assembly as the principle that they have a general “responsibility to protect” human beings from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity. See resolution “World Summit Outcome 2005”, A/RES/60/1 (October 24, 2005)., paras 138-9.
Although R2P refers to states responsible for their own people, with extreme exceptions, soon critics expressed their fears that R2P might legitimize armed interference, calling it R2I (right to intervene).
Mr Evans, former Australian foreign minister and campaigner for R2P, wrote a major work on this concept : “The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All.” (2008).