Talking foreign policy: a roundtable on piracy.

Position::End Game: An International Conference on Combating Maritime Piracy - Discussion

Broadcast quarterly, "Talking Foreign Policy" is a one-hour radio program, hosted by Case Western Reserve University Law Professor Michael Scharf, in which experts discuss the salient foreign policy issues of the day. The September 6, 2013 broadcast addresses the persistent problem of modern-day maritime piracy.

In a recent interview, Professor Scharf said: "We want to cover the most salient and interesting foreign policy topics in each program." (2) Because international policy issues are so prominent in a day-to-day news cycle but often can be difficult to grasp, Professor Scharf pitched the idea for "Talking Foreign Policy" to WCPN 90.3 ideastream, Cleveland's NPR affiliate, late last year. He then lined up a few colleagues known for their ability to discuss complex foreign policy topics in an easy-to-digest manner. Sort of a radio version of the McLaughlin Group, each episode features a regular cast of participants, with Professor Scharf serving as host. This broadcast featured:

* The human rights expert: Romeo Dallaire, Retired U.N. Force Commander based in Rwanda during the Rwandan Genocide. Lt. Gen. Dallaire has since written two best-selling books and has been elected as a Canadian Senator. He currently works with many different human rights campaigns focused on ending the global problem of child soldiers.

* The Judge: Rosemelle Mutoka, Kenyan judge who has presided over seven piracy cases based in Kenyan courts.

* The international law professor: Milena Sterio, law professor at Cleveland State University; and

* The Prosecutor: Sulakshna Beekarry, Head Prosecutor for the Mauritius trials on international piracy.

Archived broadcasts (both in audio and video format) of "Talking Foreign Policy" are available at: TalkingForeignPolicy. The edited transcript of the September 6, 2013 broadcast appears below.


MICHAEL SCHARF: Welcome to Talking Foreign Policy, I am your host Michael Scharf, Associate Dean of Case Western Reserve University School of Law. In today's broadcast we'll be discussing the persistent problem of maritime piracy. We'll begin our discussion with General Romeo Dallaire, the U.N. Force Commander who tried to save the Tutsis during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Nick Nolte played him in the award-winning 2005 film Hotel Rwanda. Since then General Dallaire has been appointed as a Canadian senator, written two best-selling books and is the founder of the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldier Initiative (3) at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. Thanks for being with us General.


MICHAEL SCHARF: I would like to start off by asking you to tell us a little about your journey from U.N. Force Commander to human rights advocate, focusing on child soldiers.

ROMEO DALLAIRE: It was very much based on the experience in Rwanda. Previous to that, I was a NATO commander, so we were essentially engaged in classic warfare at the end of the Cold War. All these new imploding nations and failing states got us involved in a number of countries. The Rwandan mission that I commanded, which ultimately ended with the genocide in Rwanda, brought me face to face with the ability of human beings to be able to destroy each other on massive scales and with near impunity. Also, the use of youths and children, using youth militias to conduct a lot of this destruction and those traumas of 1994. I was able to then nurture this feeling that there had to be something better in the world than simply letting these catastrophic failures happen, and so I got engaged in trying to get back into the field and trying to prevent some of it from happening.

MICHAEL SCHARF: Now you have written two best-selling books. The first one was Shake Hands with the Devil (4) and it's a powerful indictment of the international community's inaction in the face of genocide in Africa. Do you think the world has learned the lessons from Rwanda now that it is twenty years later?

ROMEO DALLAIRE: It is interesting the way you put it, in a professorial way, "they learned a lesson." I think they learned to create some tools that would prevent that from happening. As an example, and I think the dominant example, is the Responsibility to Protect doctrine that was finally approved in 2005 in the General Assembly, (5) which essentially the world signed up to. (It) states that if a nation is massively abusing the human rights of its own people or can't stop it, we, and all the other nations under the U.N., must go in and intervene to protect. So that was an extraordinary product that was brought about. The problem, however, with that is that although they have learned that and they know it's there, they are not applying it. They are not operationalizing it.

MICHAEL SCHARF: So, for example, with respect to Syria, Obama has been saying we have to take action for humanitarian reasons. And other countries, and members of our Congress here in the United States, are saying it's not legal to do so and we have no obligation. (6)

ROMEO DALLAIRE: Well, both are wrong. In fact it starts as far back as Libya as we went in sort of half-cocked sending in air forces, where, in fact Gaddafi said, "I am going to crush these cockroaches." (7) Those were exactly the same words used by the extremists in Rwanda that brought about the Responsibility to Protect. And we should have put boots on the ground to protect the civilians and ultimately not have them (Libyans) bleed in trying to establish some order. Well, Syria offered us exactly the same situation, but we didn't take it up. When I was asked two years ago, which was already six months into the Syrian campaign, "What do you think we should be doing?" I said, "We should be applying Responsibility to Protect, but there haven't been enough people killed to actually provide the politicians in this world who have the ability to intervene to want to intervene." So the will to intervene is not behind the Responsibility to Protect.

MICHAEL SCHARF: Now, in Rwanda we were talking about 800,0008 slaughtered in four months. In Syria, the recent estimates were 1,400 people were killed by recent chemical weapons attack, but maybe 100,000 people have been killed since the fighting began in March of 2011. (9) How many do you think would be enough before the scales tip in favor of some sort of humanitarian intervention?

ROMEO DALLAIRE: You are hitting the heart of the problem. How many humans have got to suffer for those who have the capability of responding, and considering those humans equal to them, to be worth us taking those risks and going in and helping them? And we haven't broken that code. We've found means of maybe how we should do it, but we haven't found the willingness of our leaders. Our politicians who are risk advisers are not statesmen who are prepared to take risks to demonstrate responsibility, demonstrate a lot of willingness to move to a higher plane than self-interest. Those statesmen aren't there, and that's why we are into number crunching. And to be quite honest, the recent gas attacks and chemical attacks are a crime against humanity. So fine, bring in the International Criminal Court, but that is not the red line in reality if we are responsible towards the Responsibility to Protect. The red line was two years ago and we didn't intervene. Now it's nearly impossible unless you get a ceasefire and move in a separation force under the U.N. to permit then a future negotiation stage.

MICHAEL SCHARF: Let's now talk a little bit about child soldiers, because that's what you have been working on lately. Your recent best-seller They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children (10) is about the problem of child soldiers and you make the case that the international community is ignoring that problem at its own peril. Can you elaborate on that?

ROMEO DALLAIRE: It's very much peer focused. Many of the nations that are seeing the use of child soldiers, either by government forces or non-state actors, are countries where the demographics are such that 50 percent, sometimes more, of the population are under the age of eighteen, which is the age under the Optional Protocol on Child Rights where children are not to be recruited nor used in operations and conflict. (11) So you've got this massive reserve of youth that is being abused, and they are seeing each other so used and it can sort of perpetuate itself because, you know, "I went through it so maybe this is the way we can do it and let's keep it going." So the greatest risk of the child soldiers is the fact that it can be an instrument of war, a weapon of war, that can sustain itself time after time, because the demographics are permitting it to happen.

MICHAEL SCHARF: Yes, and you have gone from looking at child soldiers to now focusing on an even more narrow problem, that of child pirates, maritime pirates. So your recent editorial in the Toronto Globe and Mail was headlined Child Pirates are Everybody's Problem. (12) Can you tell us why we should be concerned about child piracy?

ROMEO DALLAIRE: Because the impact of them is of course an economic one that is directly related to our self-interests, our economic self-interests, but also the child piracy has this funny way, in my perspective, of going beyond its borders. This is not a border-restricted use of children like, let's say, child soldiers which would be in a nation, a conflict zone, and apart from the LRA who have been sort of very mobile ...

MICHAEL SCHARF: That's the Lord's Resistance Army, which operates in northern Uganda and Sudan.

ROMEO DALLAIRE: Yes, and they are now in the Central African Republic and are being supported by Sudan to subvert South Sudan. (13) So it gets pretty complicated, but apart from that particular group, the others are very localized. So the question is, with pirates it spreads. We are seeing Western Africa now also seeing a surge in the use of piracy and the availability again...

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