Responsibility To Protect
The Responsibility to Protect (‘RtoP’ or ‘R2P’) is a new international norm in which the concept of state’s sovereignty is understood not merely as a right but also as a responsibility: the responsibility of the state to protect its population from mass atrocities such as genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. According to this norm, in cases where a government fails to protect its population, or if itself perpetrates the atrocities, it is then the responsibility of the international community to intervene and provide the protection, even using force if necessary.
After the Second World War, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which was adopted by the United Nations in 1948 represented theinternational community’s attempt to ensure the horrors witnessed during the Holocaust would never occur again. However, the genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, and Bosnia demonstrated the massive failure of the international community to prevent mass atrocities. Thus, near the end of the 1990s there was a recognized need to shift the debate about crisis prevention and response: the security of the community and the individual, not only the state, must be priorities for national and international policies.
The concept of RtoP was first articulated in the 2001 report by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS). Following this report, the World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP) established the first civil society network that successfully advocated for the inclusion of RtoP in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, which stipulated:
- The State carries the primary responsibility for the protection of populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.
- The international community has a responsibility to assist States in fulfilling this responsibility.
- The international community should use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means to protect populations from these crimes. If a State fails to protect its populations or is in fact the perpetrator of crimes, the international community must be prepared to take stronger measures, including the collective use of force through the UN Security Council.
In 2009 the civil society network was re-launched as the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP). The coalition’s goal is increase activity and collaboration between NGOs working to promote the RtoP agenda, drawing on NGOs detailed knowledge of internal developments in countries facing potential or current atrocities, expertise in the conceptual aspects of RtoP, and ability to mobilize the public and press.
Today the coalition has over 90 NGO members from all regions of the world, including Oxfam International, The Hague Institute for Global Justice and Human Rights Watch. One World is proud to be a member of the International Coalition.
For more information contact us or visit the RtoP coalition website.