Toni Erskine: Protecting the vulnerable from atrocities


Our collective failure to protect vulnerable populations from mass atrocity crimes, from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, is what keeps Professor Toni Erskine awake at night. In this talk from from UNSW's UNsomnia series, Toni discusses the problem the international community was forced to face after more than 8,000 Muslim Bosniaks were massacred in July 1995 during the Bosnian War in an area declared a ‘safe haven’ under UN protection. Only a year earlier we had been confronted with genocide in Rwanda, where more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred – over a period of 100 days – while the members of the UN deliberated, and debated, and dithered and failed to act until it was too late. Both genocides sparked guilt and regret, numerous apologies, and a chorus of ‘never again’. With Aleppo now under siege in Syria, Professor Erskine proposes a new ‘coalition of the obligated’ - but I do so with hesitation. OPED on why the international community should act to protect civilians in Syria