September 19, 2005

China warns U.N. on abuse of intervention right

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - China warned the West on Monday
against any attempt to abuse a newly agreed international right
to intervene to protect civilians threatened by genocide, war
crimes or ethnic cleansing.

A United Nations summit last week approved the principle
that the international community has a "responsibility to
protect" civilians where governments are unable or unwilling to
do so.

The aim was to prevent any repetition of the massacres in
Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s.

But Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxiang insisted in a
speech to the U.N. General Assembly that the authorization of
the Security Council was required for any action to prevent a
large-scale humanitarian crisis.

"We are against any willful intervention on the ground of
rash conclusion that a nation is unable or unwilling to protect
its own citizens," Li said.

China, a veto-bearing permanent member of the Security
Council, has been the major power most reluctant to allow U.N.
intervention to protect civilians in Sudan's Darfur region or
censure of the human rights record of Zimbabwe. It also opposed
the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Li also expressed opposition to any attempt to change the
definition of the right to self-defense in international law to
allow for pre-emptive action against new threats such as
terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

"We do not support the reinterpretation or revision of the
provisions in the U.N. Charter relating to the right of
self-defense," he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked last week's world
summit to define when a pre-emptive invasion could be
justified, but the United States, which asserted the right of
pre-emption in its National Security Doctrine in 2002, blocked
the initiative.