Haiti and the Danger of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P)

As an emerging lobby advocates for the institutionalization of a controversial doctrine of "humanitarian imperialism," and  a new administration that is friendly to this doctrine gets set to occupy the White House, a reminder of the case of Haiti points to the potential dangers posed by an "operationalized" Responsibility to Protect (R2P) norm.

As an emerging lobby advocates for the institutionalization of a controversial doctrine of "humanitarian imperialism,"1 and  a new administration that is friendly to this doctrine gets set to occupy the White House, a reminder of the case of Haiti points to the potential dangers posed by an "operationalized" Responsibility to Protect (R2P) norm.


In 2004, Haiti’s democratically-elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, was overthrown by a small but well organized and funded opposition movement backed by the most powerful members of the "international community" – the U.S., Canada, and France.2

Doing what his father and Bill Clinton were unable to before him, President George W. Bush led the way in answering the question that had vexed consecutive administrations since Haiti’s popular movement swept the Duvalier’s totalitarian dynasty from power in 1986: "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?"3

In December of 2005, Fabiola Cordova, the program officer who was overseeing the National Endowment for Democracy’s (NED) burgeoning program in Haiti described how, even after more than a decade of efforts to undermine, demonize, and isolate Aristide leading up to the 2004 coup, the U.S. based their political operations on the following calculation:

"Aristide really had 70% of the popular support and then the 120 other parties had the thirty per cent split in one hundred and twenty different ways, which is basically impossible to compete [with]…"

The goal, then, was to us "even the [political] playing field’ inside of Haiti under the auspices of ‘promoting democracy." This translated to the establishment of policies operating in parallel fashion on several tracks. The political opposition, factions of which were linked to the ‘rebel’ paramilitary movement that would emerge, was bolstered in attempt to consolidate it as a united movement against Aristide. Meanwhile, Aristide’s government was simultaneously isolated diplomatically, a de facto economic embargo was placed on his government, and aid money was circumvented around the government and given to NGO’s, many of which helped form the opposition.

Combined with a variety of other factors, the strategy had the effect of creating an enabling environment for Aristide’s extra-constitutional removal from power.

With UN Security Council authorization, the U.S., Canada, France, and Chile were the first countries to send their militaries in to "stabilize" the country. They quickly joined forces with the anti-Aristide political opposition and "rebel" insurgency. On the one hand, they set up a puppet regime that was swept clear of Aristide’s Lavalas party, which was occupied by Western ‘technical assistants’ and Western-friendly ‘technocrats.’ On the other hand, the UN occupying forces joined the anti-Aristide insurgency and waged a counterinsurgency (COIN) war against Lavalas, whose members were included among those identified as anti-occupation ‘insurgents.’4

By the end of the summer of 2004, the UN’s Multilateral-Interim Force (MIF) had morphed into the Brazilian-led MINUSTAH. A lower intensity COIN war continued through 2006; according to various reports, thousands of Haitians – civilians, militants, non-violent activists – lost their lives to conflict during this period.5

The UN’s military and policing occupation continues today, with continuing Brazilian leadership alongside the forces of ten other Latin American countries, plus Jordan, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines.6 Despite having largely receded from their muscular military role, the U.S., Canada, and France remain, individually, the three most powerful external political actors in Haiti.

Needless to say, the kind of ‘stability’ sought by the foreign interveners has not yet arrived; nearly five years of UN-sanctioned occupation has not improved life for most Haitians; incredibly, a popular movement still exists calling for the return of exiled former President Aristide.7 Few would contest the claim that, were he to return to Haiti and run in a future election, Aristide would win in a landslide.

ImageProtecting Haitians, ‘Sharing’ their Sovereignty

Some comments published recently by the former commander-in-chief of the Chilean Army, Juan Emilio Cheyre, speak to the need to return our attention to the roots of the Haiti intervention. Having just returned from Haiti, Cheyre, now the director of an elite Chilean think tank, wrote a column calling for a reduction of the Haiti’s sovereignty, which he thinks should be placed in "de facto trust" with the international community. Together, the foreigners and Haiti would exercise a sort of "shared sovereignty." Although a "drastic option," Haiti is, according to the retired general, after all, a "failed state." The evolution of "the conventional concept of sovereignty," Cheyre reasons, renders foreign tutelage over Haiti a necessary evil.8

Cheyre is only the latest in a long line of foreigners to publicly pontificate on the neo-colonization of Haiti.

Speaking to a Canadian parliamentary committee only a few weeks after Aristide’s removal, the head of a Canadian think tank and ‘democracy’ promotion NGO, John Graham of the Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL), wanted to avoid having "the stones of anti-colonialism hurled," at the foreign trustees, but at the same time felt that some measure of foreign control over the Haitian state was necessary:

"We don’t want to call it a trusteeship, but we didn’t call Bosnia a trusteeship. We didn’t call East Timor a trusteeship. But some control has to be vested in the international community to give Haiti a beginning."9

As it turned out, the "international community" opted to officially abandon the rhetoric of trusteeship, following both the advice of Graham, as well as one of the concept’s 21st century progenitors, Stephen Krasner. Writing in the NED’s Journal of Democracy in 2005, Krasner reasoned that "for policy purposes," "shared sovereignty" should be termed "partnerships," in order to simultaneously undermine and pay lip service to state sovereignty.10 The distinction is important. By claiming that they are merely a collective of "donors" who are "accompanying" their "partner," Haiti, the foreign interveners try and render themselves unaccountable for their actions. If things go wrong, the blame can be placed on Haitians themselves.

Another, related concept that has been abandoned rhetorically but applied in actuality in Haiti is that of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) doctrine. Alongside the multi-track process of destabilizing Haiti in the period 2000-2004, a radical reconfiguration of how state sovereignty is to be viewed began to be formalized. In the middle of this process, Haiti was characterized by some as an ‘ideal R2P situation.’ Since the coup, however, and since the R2P is becoming embedded in international institutions and law, Haiti has dropped off the R2P radar. Dozens of papers, panels, symposiums, and conferences seem to have studiously avoided Haiti when discussing R2P.

Although its roots go back at last as far as the conceptualization of the idea of "sovereignty as responsibility," first formulated by the elite Brookings Institution think tank’s Francis Deng with generous funding from the Carnegie foundation in the early 1990s11, R2P made its most serious advancement with the 2001 Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS).12

The ICISS was spearheaded and coordinated by the Canadian government beginning in 2000, and, importantly received crucial seed money from several key U.S.-based liberal philanthropic foundations. As two U.S.-based R2P advocates, Adelle Simmons and April Donnellan wrote recently, the R2P simply "would not have come about without the support of philanthropy."13

Historically, many foundations have undertaken extensive programming abroad, at arms length but also inextricable from the interests of U.S. imperialism. In the case of R2P, philanthropy is said to possess a "comparative advantage" to the extent that they can contribute "to the larger goal of establishing norms by supporting civil society groups whose work complement[s] and reinforce[s] governments or official organizations."14

Indicative of the elitist nature of R2P’s development, an American R2P advocate described how an early R2P conference he helped organize was, in effect "an insiders game to discuss and decide what some of the elements of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine should be so that the political extremists wouldn’t get a hold of it before considered people were able to define it."15

R2P typifies in doctrinal form the ‘evolution of the conventional concept of sovereignty’ by "considered people." In short, R2P has been defined as a situation wherein "the power of the sovereign state can be legitimately revoked if the international community decides that the state is not protecting its citizens."16 Importantly, the state’s power is not only taken in extreme instances, via military intervention. Sovereignty can also be undermined by policies imposed under the "preventive" and "rebuilding" phases of the R2P spectrum, often in the form of economic sanctions, "coercive diplomacy," "democracy promotion," "good governance," and structural adjustment programs.

For myriad reasons, many of which are illustrated by the case of Haiti, R2P remains relevant for die hard supporters of sovereignty, not the least of which due to the fact that the Haiti intervention is seen by some as a model for future interventions in the hemisphere.

Providing a case in point in the fall of 2005, a Canadian diplomat told a group of journalists gathered in Canada’s austere Port au Prince embassy that Haiti is "an example for the crisis to come in this hemisphere. We could think, for example, what will happen when Cuba will be in transition…"17

Not only for Cuba, who, for good reason, have remained one of the few outspoken critics of R2P, but for the entire world, the case of Haiti shows that the attempted institutionalization of this doctrine carries with it serious, potential dangers.

Following the controversial inclusion of the (albeit watered-down) R2P language in the UN’s 2005 World Summit Outcome document18, a veritable, well-funded "R2P Lobby" has stealthily emerged to advance and consolidate the doctrine as a ‘global norm.’ Some lessons from R2P’s application in Haiti offer some sobering reasons to monitor, and, if necessary, counter R2P’s consolidation.

R2P’s Haitian Genesis

On the last weekend of January 2003, the Canadian government hosted a secret meeting to discuss Haiti’s future. Only informing the Haitian government after the fact, the "Ottawa Initiative on Haiti," was attended by representatives of the self-identified "friends of Haiti," including, chiefly, the U.S., Canada, and France, along with representatives from the EU and OAS.

Although the details of the meeting remain disputed – the relevant portions of declassified documents describing the meeting were redacted – the journalist who broke the story of the meeting, Michel Vastel, stands by his claim that the meeting’s attendees arrived at "a consensus that ‘Aristide should go.’" Vastel claims that the French government "suggested there should be a ‘trusteeship’ like there was in Kosovo. That was not an intervention, they said, that was their responsibility – all these countries – to protect."19

One of Vastel’s sources for the story was then-Canadian Secretary of State for Latin America and Liberal Member of Parliament Denis Paradis, who organized the meeting. In an interview following Aristide’s removal in 2004, Paradis denied that Aristide’s ouster was discussed, but said that R2P was the "thematic that went under the whole meeting," and that "if there is one place where the principles of this ‘responsibility to protect’ would apply around the world, it’s Haiti."20

Paradis’s statements are important to the extent that Canadian and UN officials were loathe to publicly tout Haiti as an example of R2P’s application, especially when at the same time R2P advocates were busily lobbying to get it adopted at the 2005 UN Summit.

Nevertheless, there is some indication that Haiti was seen by Canadian officialdom as an ideal R2P situation. In a declassified talking points memo from Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs dated 26 March 2004 titled "Canada’s Responsibility to Protect Follow-up Efforts," the following question is posed: "Why is Canada not applying The Responsibility to Protect in the case of Haiti?" The answer is revealing.

On the one hand, the R2P was, at that point, "a report only" and "not considered part of customary international law," although this was (and remains) the goal. On the other hand, "Canada’s actions in the case of Haiti are entirely consistent with our support for R2P’s core-findings…"21

Official rhetoric aside, there are other sets of since-declassified memos that illustrate the extent to which ‘R2P principles’ were applied, not to ‘protect’ Haitians, but to destabilize the democratically elected government in preparation for its overthrow.

There is an interesting convergence that is worth noting between Canada’s unprecedented leadership role in Haiti, and its leadership role in advancing the R2P doctrine. As Paul Martin, the Prime Minister at the time of both the coup d’etat in Haiti and R2P’s adoption in 2005, wrote in his recently published memoir, Canadian leadership on R2P was desirable since, as Canada "was never a colonial power, and no one suspects us of neo-colonial ambitions, we are able to come to this work with ‘clean hands.’"22

Such sentiments were consistent with those expressed by John Graham’s colleague at FOCAL, Carlo Dade, during Parliament’s post-coup hearings on Haiti, who referred to Canada’s "perception in the region as a counterweight to what is viewed as heavy U.S. involvement in the region."23 It was this perception that compelled the U.S. to support a Canadian leadership role both in Haiti and on the R2P file.

Although there is no space for an analysis of the entire ICISS report here, it is worth noting that it stressed that military intervention was considered a last resort, and that attention is to be paid to "direct prevention efforts." According to the ICISS, such measures can "make it absolutely unnecessary to employ directly coercive measures against the state concerned."24

Examples of preventive measures listed that can be found in the case of pre-coup Haiti include "political and diplomatic" efforts such as "friends groups," (i.e. the ‘Friends of Haiti), or "problem-solving workshops" (i.e. the ‘Ottawa Initiative on Haiti’). More importantly for the purposes of this article, the ICISS lists "economic direct preventive measures," sometimes of "a more coercive nature" that can be employed, such as "threats of trade and financial sanctions…threats to withdraw IMF or World Bank support; and the curtailment of aid and other assistance."25

It is no coincidence that all of these "preventive" economic measures were undertaken against Haiti beginning immediately following Aristide’s landslide election in 2000, up to the February 29, 2004 regime change.

On the one hand, the ICISS states that such "tough threatened direct prevention efforts can be important in eliminating the need to actually resort to coercive measures, including the use of force."26

On the other hand, the authors note that some of the unintended consequences of such measures, responsibility for which rests with the state being "helped," finds that "those who wish to resist external efforts to help may well, in so doing, increase the risk of inducing increased external involvement, the application of more coercive measures, and in extreme cases, external military intervention."27

Here is where some declassified documents from U.S. and Canadian officials help illustrate a key point with respect to R2P. It wasn’t the intransigence of Aristide’s government that led to "increased external involvement," and, eventually the "extreme case" of military intervention. Rather, using key multilateral institutions in conjunction with the other destabilizing efforts noted above, the U.S. and Canada themselves knowingly fostered conditions of "chaos" that could only lead to military intervention.

One illustration of this concerns the deliberate holding-up of already approved loans for Haiti from the Inter-American Development Bank in 2001-2002. The details are drawn from the joint report, "Wòch nan Soley: The Denial of the Right to Water in Haiti," by New York University’s Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice, the NYU School of Law’s International Human Rights Clinic, Dr. Paul Farmer’s Partners in Health, and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights.

This report shows, through an analysis of documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), that "political" motivations compelled the U.S. Treasury Department, working through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), to undertake "continuous efforts to block Haiti’s access to loans in response to these political concerns." Only as "a reward for [the U.S.’s desired] political change in Haiti," would the previously approved loans be dispersed. Notably, such loans were needed in order to provide essential life requirements to the people, such as water and health care.

Importantly, the U.S. (and, evidently, Canadian) obstruction of these loans was a violation of the IDB’s Charter, which states that the IDB "shall not interfere in the political affairs of any member." In the report, one U.S. official is cited, relaying to the Treasury Department that, in reality, there were "no obstacles to [the loan’s] disbursement." There was however, a way to manufacture obstacles, by undertaking to "slow" the process of releasing Haiti’s desperately needed funds, in accordance with U.S. political objectives.

Canada’s role is not mentioned in the report, which might explain the Canadian media’s failure to report on its findings.28

One might reasonably assume that Canada was complicit with this process: media talking points for the Foreign Affairs bureau at the time justified Canada’s support for the policy, stating that Haiti must take steps "toward resolving the political situation before the resumption of assistance by the international community, particularly the IFI’s."

Such assumptions appear to be confirmed by documents obtained via Canada’s Access to Information Act (ATI’s).29 A few examples from these documents will show how Canada followed the policy of "slowing" the disbursement of loans to Haiti in lockstep with the U.S.

Wòch nan Soley notes how the Organization of American States (OAS) was drawn into the center of the political struggle, even though in fact "the OAS position [on the loans] was irrelevant to the disbursement process." Nevertheless, when brought in to assess the situation, OAS officials (led by U.S. Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi, who, only weeks before Aristide’s ouster, publicly lamented that "the international community is so screwed up and divided that it is letting Haitians run Haiti"30) agreed that the loans’ release "should be proportional to President Aristide’s progress toward ending political problems between rival parties in Haiti."

In a memorandum distributed by Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAIT), on January 25, 2002, the "Canadian position" on the disbursement of loans and on the role of the OAS is stated explicitly:

"The IDB (with the support of Canada as a member of the Council) continues to require a green light from the OAS…before supporting the resumption of large scale assistance [to Haiti]."

Although as noted above, the OAS position was "irrelevant" to the releasing of funds, the Canadians imposed with the U.S. the belief that a "green light" from the OAS was still necessary.

Consistent with the ICISS report, the memo correctly anticipates that a maintenance of the status quo policy, or, in the words of Canadian officials, the "consequence of inaction" on the part of the ‘Friends of Haiti’ would "lead to the descent of Haiti into chaos."

A month later, an Intelligence Assessment from the Canadian Prime Minister’s secretive Privy Council Office further stated that "Aristide must access blocked foreign aid or continue to lose ground, and he knows it."

In another memo, Canadian officials proudly refer to the "cooperative Canada-US working relationship" on the Haiti file. Not only was Canada closely coordinating its policy with the US, once the Bush administration took over the file from President Clinton, Canada virtually stood alone with the U.S. in defiance of a majority of the OAS member states who wanted, at the very least, for the loans to be disbursed.

A Canadian memo dated July 25, 2002 acknowledges how the "majority" of the member states who comprise the OAS Permanent Council "favour release of some IFI funding" to Haiti. Only the U.S. and Canada stood in the way of this, even as Haiti’s ambassador complained that "No political group has the right to hold a Government and a people hostage."

A few days later, one day before a major meeting of the Permanent Council (July 30, 2002), Canadian officials indicated that an exasperated Haiti planned to request approval of a resolution that would lead to a lifting of the barriers to the disbursement of loans. A Canadian official, who met directly with Haiti’s ambassador, conveyed to him "that Canada would not be in a position to support the Haitian draft."

Noting that the Haitian ambassador seemed to feel, nevertheless, that he "has the numbers necessary to push the resolution through," the Canadian official said, "On straight numbers, he is probably correct – but at the moment, there are two key players outside of the tent."

ImageIn case there is any mistake over who the "two key players outside of the tent" were, the next day, following the Permanent Council meeting where Haiti tried to table their resolution that would free up the aid, a Canadian official boasted how, "Firm opposition to the Haitian draft from USA and Canada…resulted in Haitian indication of willingness to work on revisions to the text."

Although forced to water down the resolution in order to make "it…acceptable to all," that is, to Canada and the U.S., the Haitian ambassador defiantly decried to the Council that "Haiti will not accept the tutorship of the international community, or that of an institution which is working to carry out the agenda of some other government." The ambassador added that "forcing Haiti to accept any outside framework is incompatible with the sovereign law of the people and government."

Nevertheless, the U.S.-Canadian "slowing" process yielded the desired result. By January of 2003, not long before the ‘Ottawa Initiative’ meeting, Canadian intelligence analysts would accurately predict that circumstances had deteriorated so much that "Aristide…could be forced to resign or could face a coup." They even presciently noted how "Ex-military power brokers may be preparing for ‘Regime Change,’" and that according to "some observers," it was conceivable that "hundreds of ex-soldiers could be mobilized, should conditions deteriorate sufficiently and a suitable leader appear."

Another Canadian memo drafted eight months before Aristide’s ouster (June 10, 2003) noted how "the gradual suspension of most external assistance" and the channeling of funds away from the Haitian state to NGO’s had the result of weakening the government; "Accordingly, the State’s capacity to respond to the needs of the population has been greatly diminished." Publicly, however, it was Haiti’s "failure" and "bad governance," coupled with Aristide’s increasingly "authoritarian" ways, that diminished the State’s capacity.

No one knows how many Haitians lives were affected by this "gradual suspension" of aid. As Todd Howland of the RFK Memorial Foundation said, as a result of these obstructions, "Haitians have died. There have been actual deaths linked to the fact that the IDB never disbursed these loans."31

Some $200 million in IDB loans ended up getting approved in late 2003, most of which did not get dispersed until the damage was done, and Aristide was overthrown, after which the International Financial Institution’s condition-laden funding taps opened. This period was described in a World Bank assessment as "a window of opportunity for implementing economic governance reforms…that may be hard for a future government to undo."32 Another $215 million was approved during the coup government’s reign in 2005.33 Now, with a government in power that de facto ‘shares sovereignty’ with the international community, the IDB is projecting a further $520 million to be dispersed between 2007-2011.34


A full analysis of the impact and de facto implementation of R2P in Haiti is beyond the scope of this article. However, a few more general points about R2P can be made in closing.


Gareth Evans

In purporting to respond to critics of R2P in his new book, "The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All", Gareth Evans, the person who is perhaps R2P’s leading lobbyist, attempts to dismiss "those who retain a strong aversion to imperialism, or perceived neo-imperialism" as erecting "straw men" by insisting on "hammer[ing] away at humanitarian intervention as the target, and only incidentally mention R2P…without acknowledging that the debate has moved on and the extent to which their concerns have already been conceptually accommodated."35

Unfortunately for Evans, no such ‘conceptual accommodation’ that would allow for the destabilization, regime change, and counterinsurgency war waged against Haiti, can be found to exist. As such, it seems reasonable to suggest that until the appropriate parties are held accountable for their policies, it is impossible to "move on." Evans himself, as the president and CEO of the International Crisis Group (ICG), repeatedly cites ICG documents throughout his book. But when it comes to Haiti, there is not a single explicit reference to the situation in Haiti for the period covering 2004-2006 (despite the fact the ICG issued six Haiti-specific reports during the period).36

Writing about the topic of economic sanctions in a section titled ‘Operationalizing the Responsibility to Protect," Evans warns, without mentioning Haiti, that "the capacity of financial sanctions to do real damage…should never be underestimated."37

Far from exceptional, Evans’ evasion of R2P’s destructive application in Haiti appears to be standard fare. Indeed, noting the absence of such discussion in the Canadian discourse, one R2P advocate has noted, "The Canadian government’s justification for the 2004 intervention in Haiti, without open debate from an R2P perspective, has damaged the R2P campaign, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean."38

Even if marginalized, criticism of R2P in the case of Haiti is not as obscure as one might assume. In his memoir, Paul Martin describes how the Prime Minister of Jamaica, P.J. Patterson, resistant to the legitimation of the doctrine by the UN, "saw the responsibility to protect in the context of the recent ouster of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti." Ever the expert at "personal diplomacy," Martin was able to "persuade him to change his view, partly because of Canada’s bona fides in the region and in particular with respect to Haiti, as well as by arguing that no intervention would occur without regional approval."39

The overall process by which such "regional approval" for Haiti’s occupation and the de facto implementation of R2P came about is, again, a topic for another paper. Even if earlier ‘damaged,’ the R2P Lobby’s campaign to achieve acceptance for R2P have proceeded apace since 2005. The doctrine has made inroads in the region more generally outside of Haiti. Earlier this year, a major R2P conference was held in Buenos Ares, Argentina, "Dialogue on Responsibility to Protect: Latin American Perspectives."40 This was just one of numerous such conferences being held by the R2P Lobby, with an eye toward creating a "global R2P advocacy movement."

Fittingly, one of the two Haitian "civil society" activists to attend the R2P conference was Pierre Esperance, whose organization NCHR (later named RNDDH) actually fabricated the perpetration of "genocide" in Haiti during the "rebels" pre-coup incursion. With Canadian government funding, Esperance’s false claims were responsible for the wrongful imprisonment of Haiti’s Prime Minister, Yvon Neptune. He served more than two years in prison where he nearly died, before being released without charge in July 2006. Esperance’s false accusations helped provide post facto justification for "humanitarian intervention" and the invocation of R2P.41

ImageGiven what we have seen here, perhaps the most disturbing potential development is that the R2P Lobby’s efforts have received a considerable boost from the election of Barack Obama. Far more than pre-emptive, unilateral wars, R2P appears to be the perfect complement to the U.S.’s expanding counterinsurgency and emerging "smart power" doctrines, to which Obama has already indicated a commitment. Some of Obama’s key cabinet picks (namely Susan Rice, and Hillary Clinton) and advisors close to the incoming administration’s camp (most notably top Clinton advisor Lee Feinstein, Samantha Power, and Anne-Marie Slaughter) are well-known advocates for R2P’s "operationalization."

With little sustained criticism of the doctrine, and an elite establishment that is desperate to "re-brand" the U.S. image so that it can "move from eliciting fear and anger to inspiring optimism and hope,"42 formal adoption of R2P seems possible under Obama, if not likely.

At the same time, it should be remembered that it was the Bush administration’s consent that allowed for the adoption of R2P language in the 2005 UN World Summit Outcome document. Likewise, the same document formalized "democracy promotion" as the UN’s complement to the Bush-led "Freedom Agenda." Obama, too, has expressed a commitment to the global "democracy" agenda, the interventionist cousin of the R2P doctrine.

Equally, as pointed out in a book by a close advisor to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the R2P doctrine, which " the Canadian government has made…[as] the basis of its international policy in the coming decade," essentially mirrors in "value motivations" the Bush administration’s 2002 National Security Strategy.43 Likewise, R2P finds resonance with the what (both Bush’s, and soon to be Obama’s) Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has described as the "balanced strategy" that is necessary for "Reprogramming the Pentagon for a New Age."44

In Canada, the close affinity between "democracy" promotion and R2P is openly displayed. In Winnipeg recently, NED’s Canadian sister organization, Rights and Democracy, co-hosted a seminar, "Next Steps for Civil Society to Advance The Responsibility to Protect."45 Under the Conservative government, Canada has quietly continued support for R2P and its funding has contributed to the growth of a "global R2P coalition." And waiting in the wings to take political power is the new leader of Canada’s Liberal Party, Michael Ignatieff, cheerleader for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, advocate of "Empire Lite," and member of the R2P’s ICISS.

Although this article has only focused on R2P’s de facto application in one context, the example of Haiti alone, combined with the R2P Lobby’s silence on the Haiti case and its close proximity to other interventionist projects, should compel those who are concerned with the erosion of state sovereignty, the [re-]emergence of a paradigm of "humanitarian imperialism," and a continuation of the global counterinsurgency campaign (aka ‘war on terror’), to think twice about supporting R2P’s entrenchment as a global norm.

Anthony Fenton is an independent researcher and journalist based near Vancouver, B.C.


1. See Bricmont, Jean. (2006) Humanitarian Imperialism: Using Human Rights to Sell War. New York: Monthly Review Press.
2. The most extensive, objective account of the destabilization and post-coup period is Peter Hallward’s (2007) Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment. New York: Verso. For an important analysis of the coup using Chomsky and Herman’s propaganda model and extensive interviews see also MacDonald, Isabel K. (2007). "Covering the coup: Canadian news reporting, journalists, and sources in the 2004 Haiti crisis". York University: MA thesis, December. The external view of the local political calculus was provided in an interview (5 December 2005) with a NED program officer who was stationed in Haiti (working for NED-affiliate NDI) at the time of the destabilization effort: "Aristide really had 70 per cent of the popular support and the 120 other parties had the [remaining] thirty per cent split in one hundred and twenty different ways." This playing field needed to be levelled.
3. Blum William. (2004) Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Operations Since World War II. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press: 370-382.
4. The operations of the Canadian Forces in Haiti are explicitly referred to as COIN operations in Canada’s first-ever COIN doctrine, a Draft version of which was prepared in September 2005. The manual includes several examples of COIN efforts in Haiti. A copy of the manual can be found at: http://ceasefireinsider.wordpress.com/2007/04/17/revealed-the-militarys-draft-counterinsurgency-operations-manual/
5. See Hutson, Royce and Athena R. Kolbe. "Human rights abuse and other criminal violations in Port-au-Prince, Haiti: a random survey of households." The Lancet, Volume 368, Issue 9538: 864-873, 2 September 2006. <
http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(06)69211-8/abstract>. For the story of the attempt to discredit this report and demonize one of its authors, see Emersberger, Joe. "Discrediting the Lancet Study on Haiti." Znet. 2 October 2006. http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/3057.
6. The Latin American countries occupying Haiti are: Argentina (545), Bolivia (215), Brazil (1,194), Chile (539), Ecuador (66), Guatemala (114), Paraguay (31), Peru (204), and Uruguay (1,157). Colombia and El Salvador have a symbolic police presence there.
7. See only the most recent example, "Haitians Demand Aristide’s Return." BBC 17 December 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7787011.stm
8. See "Haiti’s Uncertain Future." DR1 Daily News 15 December 2008.
9. Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. Evidence April 1, 2004.
10.Krasner, S.D. "The Case for Shared Sovereignty," Journal of Democracy 16:1, 2005, p. 80 cited in Bickerton, Christopher J. "State-building: Exporting State Failure," p. 106 in Christoper Bickerton et al (eds). (2007) Politics Without Sovreignty. New York: UCL Press. For examples of Canada’s use of the ‘partnership’ rhetoric toward Haiti, see "Canada supports projects in Haiti in key reconstruction sectors." Canadian International Development Agency 25 November 2005. http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/CIDAWEB/acdicida.nsf/En/JER-327114133-ML3. See also, "Canadian Cooperation with Haiti: Reflecting on a Decade of ‘Difficult Partnership.’" Canadian International Development Agency December 2004. http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/41/45/34095943.pdf. The name given to the UN and World Bank administered tutelage program was, fittingly, the ‘Interim Cooperation Framework,’ on which see Schuller, Mark. "Haiti’s Interim Cooperation Framework: Tail Wagging the Dog?" HaitiAnalysis.com 22 February 2007. http://www.haitianalysis.com/2007/2/22/haiti-s-interim-cooperation-framework-tail-wagging-the-dog.
11. See: http://www.carnegie.org/sub/program/grantsearch.html.
12.See, Deng, Francis Mading. (1996) Sovereignty as responsibility : conflict management in Africa. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press. See also http://www.iciss.ca/ and http://web.gc.cuny.edu/ralphbuncheinstitute/iciss/.
13. Simmons, Adele and April Donnellan. "Reaching Across Borders: Philanthropy’s Role in the Prevention of Atrocity Crimes," p. 163 in Cooper, Richard H. and Juliette Voinov Kohler (eds.) (2009) Responsibility to Protect: The Global Moral Compact for the 21st Century. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
14. Ibid., p. 165. Numerous critical studies have exhibited the extent to which philanthropic foundations "further the foreign policy interests of the United States." (In Berman, Edward. (1983). The Ideology of Philanthropy: The Influence of the Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations on American Foreign Policy. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, p. 3.) Look for the author’s forthcoming examination of foundations, R2P, and Canada-U.S. foreign policy (2009).
15. The speaker said this at "Stopping Mass Atrocities: An International Conference on the Responsibility to Protect," 14 March 2007. http://webcast.berkeley.edu/event_details.php?webcastid=19224.
16. See Cunliffe, Philip. "Sovereignty and the politics of responsibility," p. 40 in Christoper Bickerton et al (eds). (2007) Politics Without Sovreignty. New York: UCL Press.
17. Author’s notes of meeting.
18. See: http://www.un.org/summit2005/documents.html. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expressed concerns with R2P’s adoption, "This is very suspicious … tomorrow or sometime in the future, someone in Washington will say that the Venezuelan people need to be protected from the tyrant Chavez, who is a threat." Dolnick, Sam. 2005. "Venezuela’s Chavez vows "not to be provoked" by the U.S. government." Associated Press. September 17, 2005.
19. On CBC Radio’s "The Current," Broadcast 6 August 2004.
20. See "Interview With Denis Paradis on Haiti Regime Change." The author conducted this interview on 11 September 2004. http://www.dominionpaper.ca/weblog/2004/09/interview_with_denis_paradis_on_haiti_regime_change.html.
21. Access to Information completed request #A-2005-00345.
22. Martin, Paul. (2008) Hell or High Water: My Life in and out of Politics. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart: p. 331.
23. Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. Evidence 1 April 2004.
24. ICISS. (2001) Responsibility to Protect. Ottawa: International Development Research Centre: p. 23.
25. Ibid., p. 24.
26. Ibid., p. 25.
27. Ibid.
28. See Charles, Jacqueline. "U.S. behind Haiti’s water woes, rights activists charge." Miami Herald 24 June 2008. See also Mychalejko, Cyril. "Bush Administration Accused of Withholding "Lifesaving" Aid to Haiti." UpsideDownWorld.org 25 June 2008. https://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1348/68/.
29. All ATI’s cited herein in the author’s possession.
30. See, Peplinskie, Katy. "Educating Canadians about foreign horrors." Carleton University’s Centretown News 15 April 2005. http://www.carleton.ca/ctown/archiv/apr1505/Profile.htm.
31. Quoted in Randall Robinson, An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President, p. 55.
32. See, ‘Haiti – Economic Governance Reform Operation Project’: http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2004/12/15/000012009_20041215094549/Rendered/PDF/30882.pdf
33. For a useful analysis of Haiti and the IDB, see Ricker Tom. "The IDB and Haiti: Deliver us from Debt." HaitiAnalysis.com 11 June 2007. http://www.haitianalysis.com/2007/6/11/the-idb-and-haiti.
34. See the IDB’s Country Strategy With Haiti: http://enet.iadb.org/idbdocswebservices/idbdocsInternet/IADBPublicDoc.aspx?docnum=1309702

35. Gareth. (2008) The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press: p. 58.
36. See: http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=2899&l=1
37. Evans, Gareth. (2008) The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press: p. 113.
38. Baranyi, Stephen. 2005 "What kind of peace is possible in the post-9/11 era? National agency, transnational coalitions and the challenges of sustainable peace." North-South Institute Working Paper ‘What Kind of Peace is Possible’ (WKOP) Project. October 2005: p. 13.
39. Martin, Paul. (2008) Hell or High Water: My Life in and out of Politics. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart: p. 340-41.
40. World Federalist Movement- RTPCS. 2008. "Dialogue on Responsibility to Protect: Latin American Perspectives: Conference Report: Discussion Draft." Buenos Aires, Argentina. MArch 31-April 1, 2008. http://responsibilitytoprotect.org/index.php?module=uploads&func=download&fileId=502.
41. See Skerrett, Kevin. "Faking Gencoide in Haiti." Znet. 23 June 2005. http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/5981. See also Scott, Chris. "Justice Denied: Haitian political prisoners and Canadian development dollars." Briarpatch Magazine. August 2007. http://briarpatchmagazine.com/2007/07/20/justice-denied/. And see Sanders, Richard. "Prime Minister Yvon Neptune: CIDA’s Top Political Prisoner." Press for Conversion, Issue #63, November 2008, p. 44-46. And, lastly, see Ronald St. Jean, "A propos du ‘Genocide de la Scierie’: Exiger de la NCHR Toute La Verite," CDPH, Edition Séli, July 2004.
42. From Armitage, Richard L. and Joseph Nye, Jr. CSIS Commission on Smart Power: A Smarter, more secure America. Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic & International Studies. 6 November 2006, one of just many ‘introspective’ papers on the future of U.S. power and global influence.
43. See. Rempel, Roy. 2006. Dreamland: How Canada’s Pretend Foreign Policy has Undermined Sovereignty. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
44. Gates, Robert. "A Balanced Strategy: Reprogramming the Pentagon for a New Age." Foreign Affairs. January/February 2009. http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20090101faessay88103/robert-m-gates/a-balanced-strategy.html?mode=print.
45. World Federalist Movement – Canada and Rights & Democracy. Seminar Report: Next Steps for Civil Society to Advance The Responsibility to Protect. University of Winnipeg, October 2008.