UNITED NATIONS - With the UN General Assembly debating the contentious responsibility to protect populations threatened with genocide or war crimes, US political activist and author Noam Chomsky argues that it is linked to humanitarian intervention, which he says has been abused throughout history. Agreed to by world leaders in 2005, the international understanding to intervene to stop atrocities from taking place - sometimes known as 'R2P - holds States responsible for shielding their own populations from genocide and other major human rights abuses and requires the international community to step in if this obligation is not met. Vowing to break the worlds paralysis in the face of mass atrocities typified by the Holocaust, the Khmer Rouge killing fields and the Rwanda genocide, delegates in the 192-member Assembly grappled with how and whether to implement the responsibility to protect (R2P) doctrine. At the outset, the president of the General assembly, Miguel DEscoto Brockman, warned Thursday R2P could pose a threat to national sovereignty. He said that the legacy of colonialism gave developing countries strong reasons to fear that laudable motives can end up being misused, once more, to justify arbitrary and selective interventions against the weakest States. Later at a press conference, while Chomsky backed the call for bolstered early warning mechanisms, he said that they were practically useless without a proactive press corps, especially in the West. He said that R2P was a Western ploy to meddle in domestic affairs of other countries. For example, Chomsky said no mainstream press seemed to be reporting things such as the World Food Programme (WFP) decision to cut back on its activities, a move that could spark instability in some places. Further, as far back as 1979, there had been signs that structural adjustment polices implemented by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were at the centre of brewing tensions in Burundi and Rwanda. Chomsky was concerned that the lack of a serious and dedicated press meant the general public was unaware of the troubling aspects of intervention in the name of the responsibility to protect. From early American colonialists to Nazi strategy to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, there were cases of provocation or intervention that had all come to the same end: the powerful did what they wanted and the poor suffered as they must. I would love to see that change, but unfortunately there isnt going to be, he said. Asked about the fear of developing countries that R2P could be used as a tool by Western Powers to intervene in their domestic affairs, Gareth Evans, an Australian expert, said he believed the emerging feeling in the real world was that when atrocities were occurring, States could no longer pretend that its none of our business. At the same time, those advocating R2P must acknowledge that there was a real fear in countries of the South that it would be misused. That being the case, advocates of the concept must define, refine and confine it, to be absolutely clear that it was applicable only in cases of the worst war crimes or atrocities, and that it must be filtered through a United Nations Charter-bound process. If we do that, I believe this fear will drop away, he said. Chomsky disagreed and said the major Powers still did not care about what was going on in places like eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Formal changes in the structure of the United Nations would not affect much. What was really needed was change within the societies of powerful countries. Western Governments must democratise and finally follow the will of the people on the streets. If more people knew about the United States veto power, or the implications of its use, they could force Washington to abolish it, or at least put it on the public agenda. He added that Western Powers could ignore what was going on in places like Gaza or Sri Lanka largely because their citizens did not know all that much about those situations. There had been plenty of early warning, especially in the case of Sri Lanka, its just that no one cared. Here, he said, the press could play a powerful role in reporting on such incidents and bringing them to the publics attention. While the Charter could be help as a guide in matters involving human rights, it was nevertheless being routinely and blatantly violated. Evans said his view of the world was not as dark and jaundiced as that of Chomskys, and admitted that some might call him too sunny or nanvely optimistic. Nevertheless, the Outcome of the 2005 World Summit had been a consensus document and that was a hugely significant achievement, if only because it had introduced the principle of the responsibility to protect. He admitted that more work needed to be done to get the concept implemented and to ensure a more formal assessment of the United Nations early warning structures.