Responsibility to Protect

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What is R2P? * What does it mean to have responsibility to protect? * The 6 Criteria for Military Intervention * Learn More: Links

R2P

Basic Principles of R2P

A. State sovereignty implies responsibility, and the primary responsibility for the protection of its people lies within the state itself.

B. Where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect.

What is "R2P"?

R2P is an abbreviation for the "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine. In response to the genocide in Rwanda, then-Secretary General Kofi Annan, in his report to the 2000 General Assembly, challenged the international community to come to a consensus on when and how humanitarian interventions should proceed. In December 2001, the Responsibility to Protect doctrine was created by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, an independent international commission established by the government of Canada, to address Annan's concern. This commission revolutionized international perspectives on humanitarian intervention. R2P argues that rather than states exercising their "right to humanitarian intervention," they are fulfilling their "responsibility to protect." This linguistic shift highlights how intervention has the purpose of protecting of civilians suffering from serious harm.  R2P has redefined the conception of state sovereignty by arguing that international community has the responsibility to protect civilians in states that are unwilling or unable to do so.

The United States has begun to incorporate the Responsibility to Protect doctrine within their resolutions. Paragraphs 138 and 139 of the United Nation's 2005 World Summit Outcome narrowed the Responsibility to Protect doctrine to mean the following:

Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means. We accept this responsibility and will act in accordance with it... (¶ 138).

Regarding the current genocide in Darfur, the United Nations passed Resolution 1769 on July 31, 2007, authorizing the deployment of an UN-African Union hybrid force, which said:

While Resolution 1769 maintains the sovereignty of the Government of Sudan, it also endorses Resolution 1674 on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, which reaffirms the provisions of paragraphs 138 and 139 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document regarding the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

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What does it mean to have a Responsibility to Protect?

Point 3 of the Core Principles Synopsis of R2P highlights the following distinct responsibilities that the international community has in order to fulfill its responsibility to protect civilians in states unwilling or unable to halt or avert violence:

  1. The Responsibility to Prevent: to address both the root causes and direct causes of internal conflict and other man-made crises putting populations at risk.
  2. The Responsibility to React: to respond to situations of compelling human need with appropriate measures, which may include coercive measures like sanctions and international prosecution, and in extreme cases military intervention.
  3. The Responsibility to Rebuild: to provide, particularly after a military intervention, full assistance with recovery, reconstruction and reconciliation, addressing the causes of the harm the intervention was designed to halt or avert.

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The 6 Criteria for Military Intervention

  1. Just Cause
    As laid out in Part (1) of the Principles for Military Intervention Synopsis or paragraph 4.19 of R2P, two broad sets of circumstances satisfies the "Just Cause" or "Threshold Criteria":
    a. Large scale loss of life, actual or apprehended, with genocidal intent or not, which is the product either of deliberate state action, or state neglect or inability to act, or a failed state situation; or
    b. Large scale "ethnic cleansing," actual or apprehended, whether carried out by killing, forced expulsion, acts of terror or rape.
  2. Right Intention
    Part (2)A of the Principles for Military Intervention Synopsis of R2P says:
    The primary purpose of the intervention, whatever other motives intervening states may have, must be to halt or avert human suffering. Right intention is better assured with multilateral operations, clearly supported by regional opinion and the victims concerned.
  3. Last Resort
    Part (2)B of the Principles for Military Intervention Synopsis of R2P says:
    Military intervention can only be justified when every non-military option for the
    prevention or peaceful resolution of the crisis has been explored with reasonable
    grounds for believing lesser measures would not have succeeded.
  4. Proportional Means
    Part (2)C of the Principles for Military Intervention Synopsis of R2P says:
    The scale, duration and intensity of the planned military intervention should be the minimum necessary to secure the defined human protection objective.
  5. Reasonable Prospects
    Part (2)D of the Principles for Military Intervention Synopsis of R2P says:
    There must be a reasonable chance of success in halting or averting the suffering
    which has justified the intervention, with the consequences of action not likely to
    be worse than the consequences of inaction.
  6. Right Authority
    As discussed in Part (3) of the Principles for Military Intervention Synopsis or Chapter 6 of R2P, there is no better or more appropriate body than the United Nations Security Council to authorize military intervention for human protection purposes. R2P argues that the international community should make the Security Council work better than finding alternate sources of authority.

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Learn More: Links

View a powerpoint on R2P
Core Documents on R2P
More Reading on R2P

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