At a meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Lisbon, which I attended thanks to the Atlantic Council’s Young Atlanticist Network, Ban Ki Moon fielded a question from the audience about whether or not NATO countries might intervene in South Sudan if things turned for the worse.  Of course, it is not for Ban to say that NATO should do so, but he did raise the idea that the “responsibility to protect” might be considered.

Ban never said directly that responsibility to protect should be invoked for South Sudan. But the fact that he mentioned responsibility to protect in response to a question about further international intervention in South Sudan suggests that he is at least countenancing the idea.  Ban said that deploying more peacekeepers would take too much time, and that the international community should be able to intervene using the responsibility to protect.

So far “R2P,” as it is known, has not been part of the discussion about South Sudan–mainly because there’s no ongoing mass atrocity.  But if the worst case scenario does unfold, it is useful that the Secretary General is laying some rhetorical groundwork for R2P.

There is a video of Ban’s remarks that I’m tracking down. I will post that when I can.

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