The Responsibility To Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and for All
The Responsibility To Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and for All
Toward a Common Set of Signals from the G20 about Russia’s War in Ukraine
Toward a Common Set of Signals from the G20 about Russia’s War in Ukraine
Speech / Global

The Responsibility To Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and for All

Address by Gareth Evans, President, International Crisis Group, to the Institute for Public Policy Research, London, 15 December 2008.

What is in issue here can be very simply stated. Whatever else we mess up in the conduct of international affairs - in responding to deadly conflict, in responding to human rights violations - let us at least ensure that we never again mess up when it comes to protecting people from mass atrocity crimes: the worst conflict and human rights cases of all, genocide, ethnic cleansing and other major crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Let us get to the point that when another man-made humanitarian catastrophe like Cambodia, or Rwanda, or Bosnia, or Darfur looms on the horizon, as it surely will, we will never again have to look back after another disastrous failure, asking ourselves -- with a mixture of anger, incomprehension, and shame - how we could possibly have let it happen again.

And let us get to the point that -- when the lives of thousands or more of men, women and children are again at risk because a country has shown that it is unable or unwilling to end a man-made humanitarian crisis within its borders -- the reflex response around the world is not to say, as countries have been saying for centuries, that it's none of our business, but rather to accept immediately that it is the business of all of us, and have the debate only about who should do what, when, and how.

It is almost impossible to overstate the extent to which there has been an absence of consensus on these issues in the past. In pre-modern - including biblical -- times, mass atrocities seem to have been a matter of indifference to everyone but the victims. With the emergence of the modern system of nation states in the 17th century that indifference simply became institutionalized: sovereign states did not interfere in each others internal affairs. Certainly there were instances in the 19th century of European states intervening in various corners of the Ottoman Empire to protect Christian minorities at risk - and the term "humanitarian intervention" was first used in this context. But there was no generally accepted principle in law, morality or state practice to challenge the core notion that it was no-one's business but their own if states murdered or forcibly displaced large numbers of their own citizens, or allowed atrocity crimes to be committed by one group against another on their soil.

Even after World War II, with the awful experience of Hitler's Holocaust; the recognition of individual and group human rights in the UN Charter and, more grandly, in the Universal Declaration; the recognition by the Nuremberg Tribunal Charter in 1945 of the concept of 'crimes against humanity', and the signing of the Genocide Convention in 1948, things did not fundamentally change. The overwhelming preoccupation of those who founded the UN was not in fact human rights but the problem of states waging aggressive war against each other. And what actually captured the mood of the time, and the mood that prevailed right through the Cold War years, was, more than any of the human rights provisions, Article 2(7) of the UN Charter: "Nothing should authorise intervention in matters essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State".

The state of mind that even massive atrocity crimes like those of the Cambodian killing fields were just not the rest of the world's business prevailed throughout the UN's first half-century of existence: Vietnam's invasion, which stopped the Khmer Rouge in its tracks, was universally attacked, not applauded. And Tanzania had to justify its overthrow of Uganda's Idi Amin by invoking 'self -defence', not any larger human rights justification.

With the arrival of the 1990s, and the end of the Cold War, the prevailing complacent assumptions about non-intervention did at last come under challenge as never before. The quintessential peace and security problem - before 9/11 came along to change the focus to terrorism - became not interstate war, but civil war and internal violence perpetrated on a massive scale. With the break-up of various Cold War state structures, and the removal of some superpower constraints, conscience-shocking situations repeatedly arose, above all in the former Yugoslavia and in Africa.

But old habits of non-intervention died very hard. Even when situations cried out for some kind of response, and the international community did react through the UN, it was too often erratically, incompletely or counter-productively, as in the debacle of Somalia in 1993, the catastrophe of Rwandan genocide in 1994, and the almost unbelievable default in Srebrenica, Bosnia just a year later, in 1995.

Then the killing and ethnic cleansing started all over again in Kosovo in 1999. Not everyone, but certainly most people, and governments, accepted quite rapidly that external military intervention was the only way to stop it. But again the Security Council failed to act in the face of a threatened veto by Russia. The action that needed to be taken was eventually taken, by a coalition of the willing, but in a way that challenged the integrity of the whole international security system (just as did the invasion of Iraq four years later in far less defensible circumstances).

Throughout the decade of the 1990s a fierce argument raged. On the one hand, there were advocates of "humanitarian intervention" - the doctrine that there was a "right to intervene" ("droit d'ingerence" in Bernard Kouchner's influential formulation) militarily, against the will of the government of the country in question, in these cases. On the other hand there were defenders of the traditional prerogatives of state sovereignty, who made the familiar case that internal events were none of the rest of the world's business. It was very much a North-South debate, with the many new states born out of decolonization being very proud of their new won sovereignty, very conscious of their fragility, and all too conscious of the way in which they had been on the receiving end in the past of not very benign interventions from the imperial and colonial powers, and not very keen to acknowledge their right to do so again, whatever the circumstances. And it was a very bitter debate, with the trenches dug deep on both sides, and the verbal missiles flowing thick and fast, often in very ugly terms.

It was an environment which led Kofi Annan to issue his now famous challenge to the General Assembly in 1999, and again in 2000: "If humanitarian intervention is indeed an unacceptable assault on sovereignty, how should we respond to a Rwanda, to a Srebrenica - to gross and systematic ,brviolations of human rights that offend every precept of our common humanity?"

And it was this challenge to which the Canadian-government responded by appointing the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), which I co-chaired with Mohamed Sahnoun, that came up in 2001 with the idea of 'the responsibility to protect' - "R2P" for short. The core idea is very simple. Turn the notion of 'right to intervene' upside down. Talk not about the 'right' of big states to do anything, but the responsibility of all states to protect their own people from atrocity crimes, and to help others to do so. Talk about the primary responsibility being that of individual states themselves - respecting their sovereignty - but make it absolutely clear that if they cannot meet that responsibility, through either ill-will or incapacity, it then shifts to the wider international community to take the appropriate action.

Focus not on the notion of 'intervention' but of protection: look at the whole issue from the perspective of the victims, the men being killed, the women being raped, the children dying of starvation; and look at the responsibility in question as being above all a responsibility to prevent, with the question of reaction - through diplomatic pressure, through sanctions, through international criminal prosecutions, and ultimately through military action - arising only if prevention failed. And accept coercive military intervention only as an absolute last resort, after a number of clearly defined criteria have been met, and the approval of the Security Council has been obtained.

Well, as many blue-ribbon commissions and panels have discovered over the years, it is one thing to labour mightily and produce what looks like a major new contribution to some policy debate, but quite another to get any policymaker to take any notice of it. But the extraordinary thing is that governments did take notice of the R2P idea: within four years - after two further reports (by a High Level Panel appointed by the UN Secretary General, and by Secretary-General Annan himself) it had won unanimous endorsement by the more than 150 heads of state and government meeting as the UN General Assembly at the 2005 World Summit, and within another year had been embraced in a Security Council resolution.

The language of the World Summit Outcome Document (paragraphs 138 and 139), the product of protracted and difficult lead-up negotiations, had some presentational changes as compared with the original proposals in the ICISS and other reports, but these did not alter the essential substance. It was a matter of cutting the same cake in different ways: rather than dividing it horizontally (into three layers: prevention, reaction and rebuilding), the Summit document sliced it vertically (into three segments: emphasizing respectively the role of the state itself, that of others to assist it, and that of others to take appropriate action if it was "manifestly failing" to prevent its own people, with in each case the emphasis being primarily on prevention, but embracing reaction and rebuilding as well).

The unanimous embrace of the R2P concept by the UN within five years of its first formulation was an unbelievably short time, just a blink of an eye, in the history of ideas - and particularly for an idea that was challenging the received wisdom of centuries. So a big part of the job is done. The foundations for consensus have been laid. We have in the new language a strong basis for finding common ground on hugely divisive issue (rather in the way that the Brundtland Commission years earlier, with 'sustainable development', found a way to bridge the chasm which then existed between environmentalists and developers). We have something in place which can properly be described as a new international norm, and perhaps on its way - if state practice follows its rhetoric -- toward becoming a new rule of customary international law.

But it was too early in 2005 to break out the champagne, and it is too early yet. There has been a persistent rearguard action by some governments, who seem unable to accept that their leaders signed up to the norm so unequivocally at the Summit. It's one thing to have formal agreement, and quite another to have the real agreement that means that when the next conscience-shocking atrocity situation comes along, as it surely will, the universal reflex action, all round the world, will be not to ask whether to act, but only where, when and how to act. And it's another thing again to have a doctrine which not only wins support in principle, but is operational in practice. To be confident that we'll never again have to say 'never again', we have to acknowledge that there are three big challenges to overcome - conceptual, institutional and political.

The conceptual challenge is to refine and define the concept in such a way that there are no longer basic misunderstandings, real or contrived, standing in the way of its genuine universal acceptance, and of getting agreement about what is and is not an R2P situation.

There are still two such basic misunderstandings which have widespread currency. The first is that which views R2P too narrowly, saying that it is essentially just humanitarian intervention in new clothes, at bottom all about coercive military intervention and nothing much else. Of course it is not: R2P is about the full spectrum of preventive, reactive and rebuilding response, with many other tools in the box, and the use of force only a last resort in extreme and exceptional cases, after multiple criteria - including that more good than harm will result - have been applied.

The other widespread misunderstanding is to view it too widely, as extending to almost any kind of situation in which human beings are at risk, from natural disasters to climate change to HIV/AIDS. But if R2P is to be about protecting everybody from everything, it will end up protecting nobody from anything. The whole point of embracing the new language of "the responsibility to protect" is that it is capable of generating an effective, consensual response in the case of mass atrocity crimes, in a way that "right to intervene" language simply was not.

Perhaps the only way to really clarify the concept is to apply it to particular cases and make clear the extent to which it does and doesn't apply. A number of specific examples of situations that newly erupted or were ongoing in 2008 may help to make the point.

Kenya, right at the beginning of the year, with its genocidal explosion of violence, was as clear a case as one could find of an R2P situation demanding an immediate reaction. It was recognized and labeled as such, and the situation was rapidly brought under control by a diplomatic mediation effort mounted by Kofi Annan with the support of the AU and UN. Although there remains much more to be done to consolidate the peace, this is the best example we have of the necessary global reflex response being evident from the outset; it also showed clearly that an effective response did not have to involve the use of coercive military force.

continues to be, as it has been since 2003, a clear-cut R2P case involving ongoing crimes against humanity. But, by contrast with Kenya, the international community has not had much to be proud of so far in its response, not least in its failure to supply - from a global inventory of 11,842 military helicopters - the 22 needed to make the peacekeeping mission there even partially effective. It is not a case where a coercive military operation (as distinct from peacekeeping force, accepted by the government) would be likely to do more good than harm, and other form of external pressure are needed. At least the threatened indictment of President Bashir before the International Criminal Court now seems to have begun to concentrate the Khartoum regime's mind on the need to stop government-initiated violence in Darfur and to put a serious peace settlement proposal on the table.

Burma/Myanmar at the time of Cyclone Nargis was not a clear-cut R2P case at all, although some voices were raised arguing for coercive military intervention - in the form at least of helicopter drops and barge landings of supplies - in the face of the military regime's initial reluctance to allow international relief efforts. The only way it could have been characterized as an R2P case prima facie capable of justifying such a coercive response was if the regime's response had been so deliberately malicious, or recklessly indifferent to loss of life, that it itself constituted a crime against humanity. In the event enough relief was allowed in quickly enough to avert a further tragedy, and the argument subsided.

Russia invoked the responsibility to protect principle in its invasion of Georgia in August, but not in a way that really persuaded anyone. It was difficult to argue that the risk of harm to South Ossetians from the Georgian military, though certainly justifying international concern, was of such a scale that it demanded immediate military action, without recourse to the Security Council, that was not preceded by an exploration of less extreme measures, was not obviously motivated only by protective considerations and was very clearly disproportionate.

Somalia and the eastern Congo are clearly cases where crimes against humanity are continuing to be committed in a way that fully triggers the R2P norm, but again where the international community - while it has been engaged - has not responded with any great effectiveness to protect the people most in distress.

Zimbabwe has long been a case of R2P concern, in the sense at least that its history of atrocity crime in the past (Mugabe's assault on Matabeleland in the 1980), its current acute tensions, its lack of effective internal coping mechanisms, and its resistance to both external support and pressure, all make it a country where preventive action is certainly justified to ensure that such crimes don't occur in the future. Now the immiseration of the country is proceeding so rapidly, with violence to political opponents so widespread and the attitude of the authorities so indifferent to the complete breakdown of the health system, that it is arguable that crimes against humanity are being committed right now. That does not necessarily mean there is now a case for coercive military action: with neighbouring countries so adamantly opposed, that would be both almost impossible to mount and might well generate more harm than good. But it does mean that international pressure, through targeted sanctions and the like, should be stepped up, and renewed efforts made to solve the crisis through effective political negotiation.

One other less high-profile case is worth mentioning as an example of R2P (though it hasn't been called that in so many words) successfully in action, over a number of years, and with a strongly preventive rather than just reactive focus: in Burundi, a Rwanda-style genocide which could have erupted at almost any time over the last decade and a half has been prevented by a mixture of sustained preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping and economic and government capacity building support.

The institutional challenge is to put in place the early warning and response capability, the diplomatic capability, the civilian response capability, and - for extreme cases - the military capability, to ensure that the internationally community, if it has the will, can deliver the appropriate response to whatever new atrocity crime situation that comes along that demands its engagement. There are many different relevant actors involved here - from the UN to regional organizations to individual governments to international NGOs like my own International Crisis Group - and many different structures and strategies that need to be put in place: this is not the time to spell out the full range of necessary responses, but I have tried to do so (along with addressing in detail all the other issues I have raised in this talk) in a number of chapters in my recently published book, The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All (Brookings Institution Press, 2008).

The political challenge is to have in place the mechanisms to ensure that, again when a new challenge comes along, the political will can be in fact generated to meet it -- that means both 'top down', or at least peer group, energizing of the highest levels of government and intergovernmental decision making, and 'bottom up' grass roots action to kick the decision makers into action if they are showing signs of hesitation. One helpful new organizational development this year has been the establishment by a number of major international NGOs, with the support of a number of major governments, of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P), based in New York as a research and advocacy centre aimed particularly at working both with like-minded governments and global civil society to mobilize the necessary preparedness, and will to act in new situations as they arise.

Mobilising political will in any context - and it's no different here - requires three major things to come together: good information, good organization, and good arguments (not only moral, but of a national interest, financial interest and if possible domestic political interest character). Much more could be said about all these issues, but with so many self-conscious realists still around it is worth making the specific point about national interest that it is nowadays a much broader concept than it used to be. In this interdependent, globalised world, it's no longer possible to talk, as Chamberlain did in the 1930s, of faraway countries with people of whom we know nothing. Put simply, states that cannot or will not stop internal atrocity crimes are the kind of states which cannot or will not stop terrorism, weapons proliferation, drug and people trafficking, the spread of health pandemics and other global risks which every country in the world has a stake in ending.

All that said, at the end of the day this can't just be a debate about national interest. It has to be a debate about our common humanity, about our obligation simply as human beings not to stand by watching our fellow human beings suffering unbearable, unutterable horrors. This cant just be a matter of aspiration; it has to be a matter of delivery. Every one of us, whether national or international leaders or ordinary citizens, has to do whatever is within our capacity to help. We won't be able to live with ourselves if we do not.

Members of the police stand in front of banners of the G20 summit near a venue for the G20 Finance Ministers Meeting in Nusa Dua on Indonesia's resort island of Bali, on July 14, 2022. Sonny Tumbelaka/Pool via REUTERS
Commentary / Global

Toward a Common Set of Signals from the G20 about Russia’s War in Ukraine

The G20 countries’ positions on the war in Ukraine contrast starkly, yet the conflict raises issues of global concern – economic shocks and nuclear risks – that the leaders cannot pass over in silence.

When the Group of Twenty (G20) leaders gather in Bali, Indonesia, on 15 November, one head of state who belongs to the Group will be notable by his absence. Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided not to attend the event. This news will be a relief for Western participants, who hardly want to share photo opportunities with Putin while he pursues his war in Ukraine. The Kremlin’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, will be in Bali, but he may not be relishing the prospect. Lavrov walked out of a G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in July after his Western counterparts accused Russia of sparking the global food price crisis by invading its grain-producing neighbour.

Putin’s absence will not relieve the leaders who go to Bali of the challenge of how to address the war. The G20 is primarily an economic coordination mechanism, which was thrust into the limelight during the global financial crisis in 2008. Unlike the G7, which brings together like-minded Western countries with shared political interests, the G20 encompasses geopolitical rivals – the U.S. and China foremost among them – that are not apt to adopt strong common positions on international affairs. Yet Russia’s assault on Ukraine raises issues of global concern, including the widespread food and energy price shocks and the risks of nuclear weapons use, that the world’s most powerful politicians cannot pass over in silence.

The G20 meeting is, therefore, an opportunity for leaders to signal common positions about the war. Their primary focus should be on concrete commitments by the G20 countries to help poorer ones navigate economic turmoil. But the powers present in Bali could also use the occasion to underscore that they all expect Russia to refrain from nuclear use, in word as well as deed. Ideally, they would be as clear as possible that if Moscow does cross the nuclear threshold, it will face consequences not only from the West, but globally. A joint statement condemning Russia’s prosecution of the war or setting out potential peace terms will likely be impossible, given G20 members’ widely divergent positions on the war. But if G20 members can find common ground on economic issues and the nuclear taboo, the Bali summit will be a worthwhile diplomatic endeavour.

Diverse Ukraine Policies

The G20 members’ positions on the war differ starkly. The U.S. and most of its allies in the Group have imposed sanctions on Moscow and voted to condemn the invasion in the UN General Assembly. Most of the other members have at least condemned Russia’s aggression and illegal efforts to annex Ukrainian territory at the UN, but not resorted to sanctions (see map). Yet three weighty non-Western G20 members – China, India and South Africa – have not only declined to place sanctions on Russia but also abstained in UN votes on the war.

This map shows which G20 members have sanctioned Russia, and which voted to condemn its illegal "annexations" in Ukraine at the UN in October.

Various non-Western members of the G20 have at times tried to establish a diplomatic role in the war, although the results have mainly been negligible. South Africa attempted to take a lead at the UN in March by tabling a General Assembly resolution on humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. Western and Ukrainian diplomats rejected the draft out of hand because it made no reference to Moscow’s responsibility for the war (in contrast to an alternative UN text worked up by France and Mexico), although South African officials insisted to Crisis Group that theirs was a good-faith initiative to bolster multilateral cooperation.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited both Kyiv and Moscow over the summer, promising to facilitate communication between the warring capitals. Many observers suspected that his main concern was to make sure that the war would not stop the G20 summit from going ahead. Indonesia has raised the possibility of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attending the summit, although Kyiv has indicated he will most likely only intervene via video link.

Other G20 members have also dipped their toes in Ukraine diplomacy. Mexico surprised and confused UN officials at September’s high-level UN General Assembly week by tabling a proposal for the Pope, the UN secretary-general and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lead a ceasefire effort. This idea has not taken off to date. There has also been a sporadic flow of speculation among Western commentators that India – which has increased trade with Russia since the February assault – could eventually prove a useful facilitator of Russian-Ukrainian diplomacy, and Modi urged President Putin to take a “path to peace” at September’s Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit.

In contrast to these fledgling and tentative peace efforts, Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has emerged as one of the main diplomatic actors in the crisis. Türkiye hosted early, fruitless Russian-Ukrainian peace talks, but had success when it worked with the UN over the summer to broker the Black Sea grain deal. This deal permitted Ukraine to export its harvest by sea without Russian military interference. Türkiye and another G20 member, Saudi Arabia, also facilitated a sizeable prisoner swap – involving some 215 Ukrainians and 55 Russians – in September. Behind closed doors, G20 participants will surely probe Erdoğan as to whether his frequent interlocutor Putin is ready to compromise. But there is no sign in advance of the Bali summit that Ankara sees a breakthrough coming.

 

For the U.S. and Ukraine’s other allies, Beijing’s view of the war has been a constant source of anxiety.

But, however much attention Erdoğan garners in Bali, leaders may focus even more closely on what China’s President Xi Jinping has to say. For the U.S. and Ukraine’s other allies, Beijing’s view of the war has been a constant source of anxiety since February. In recent months, Western observers believe they have seen increasing signs of frustration in China with the course of the conflict. Beijing has indicated its concern that Moscow’s nuclear sabre-rattling, bad enough in itself, might be more than dangerous talk. This concern was heightened by the Kremlin’s vague, erroneous intimations that Ukraine, not Russia, wants to raise the nuclear stakes with a “dirty bomb”. Xi articulated these issues most clearly in a joint statement with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz opposing the “threat or use of nuclear weapons” in Ukraine.

Points of Agreement

While G20 members have, therefore, no shortage of opinions about Russia’s war in Ukraine, it is difficult to see how they could reconcile their divergent views in Bali. It is hard, for example, to square Mexico’s advocacy for an early ceasefire (which Brazil and Argentina also advocated for at the UN in September) with Western powers’ worries that Moscow could use a pause in hostilities to consolidate control over parts of Ukraine even as it rearms and repositions for the next phase of conflict.

Rather than focus on the specifics of how to end the war, G20 leaders may be better advised to identify broad areas of agreement about how to contain the war and its fallout. The most obvious would be for those G20 leaders who are in Bali to endorse the Xi-Scholz condemnation of nuclear threats and nuclear use. Alternatively, or additionally, they could reiterate the basic principle that a “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”, which the five nuclear weapons states (the UK, China, France, Russia and the U.S.) affirmed in a statement to the UN in January. Such a declaration might be complicated by the G20’s incompatible positions on non-proliferation issues (Brazil, for example, has lobbied for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, whereas India is not even a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty). Given Russia’s recurrent allusions to nuclear use in Ukraine, however, the leaders should at least be able to agree they are opposed to nuclear threats and nuclear war.

The goal of such a declaration, however minimal or vague, would be to signal to Moscow that it will face global diplomatic and other penalties, rather than just consequences from the West, if its nuclear rhetoric turns to action in any way. Russia has shown some interest in how its moves in Ukraine – such as its agreement to the Black Sea grain deal – are seen in the non-Western world. G20 leaders are not likely to spell out in concrete terms what steps they would take if Russia does cross the nuclear threshold – indeed, it might be better they do not try to be too explicit, as doing so might only highlight their differences. But some sort of common signalling, especially one that by definition has both U.S. and Chinese buy-in, could help strengthen the nuclear taboo.

G20 members can offer common support to efforts to reduce the global economic damage the conflict is doing.

Turning to the war’s impact, G20 members can offer common support to efforts to reduce the global economic damage the conflict is doing. They could start by making a statement in support of the Black Sea grain deal (which is up for renewal by Russia and Ukraine on 19 November) and calling for this deal, which now has to be reaffirmed every 120 days, to continue indefinitely until hostilities cease. Such a statement would be a fillip not only for President Erdoğan, but also for UN officials working on implementing the agreement, which Russia threatened to quit in October after a Ukrainian attack on its navy.

More broadly, G20 leaders can use the Bali summit to help prop up the teetering global economy, much as their predecessors did in 2008-2009. Potential priorities include pushing multilateral development banks to boost lending to poor countries to handle economic challenges that could foment political instability. In 2021, G20 members committed to support liquidity in the global economy by making available to poor countries $100 billion in International Monetary Fund Special Drawing Rights (a reserve asset that Crisis Group discussed in detail in a briefing prior to the 2022 G7 meeting). They have been slow to follow through with this pledge, and they need to pick up the pace as the international economic picture gets bleaker.

Given its origins and membership, the G20 has greater credibility as an economic crisis management mechanism than as a security forum. Its actions on the global economy will carry more weight than its members’ political statements about Ukraine. Yet the last year has made it clear that global economic affairs cannot be insulated from security shocks, and big powers must tend to both. At the same time, Russia’s nuclear menacing amid the conflict it is waging in Ukraine is simply too big an issue to ignore. The Bali summit is an opportunity for the leading Western and non-Western powers to at least articulate their shared interest in not letting the war escalate out of all control.

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