R2P or RtoP or responsibility to protect

Source: Wikipedia: R2P or RtoP or responsibility to protect

The responsibility to protect (R2P or RtoP) is a United Nations initiative established in 2005. It consists of an emerging norm, or set of principles, based on the idea that sovereignty is not a right, but a responsibility.[1] R2P focuses on preventing and halting four crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing, which it places under the generic umbrella term of, Mass Atrocity Crimes.[2] The Responsibility to Protect has three “pillars”.

  1. A state has a responsibility to protect its population from mass atrocities;
  2. The international community has a responsibility to assist the state to fulfill its primary responsibility;
  3. If the state fails to protect its citizens from mass atrocities and peaceful measures have failed, the international community has the responsibility to intervene through coercive measures such as economic sanctions. Military intervention is considered the last resort.[3][4]

In the international community R2P is a norm, not a law.[5] R2P provides a framework for using tools that already exist, i.e. mediation, early warning mechanisms, economic sanctioning, and chapter VII powers, to prevent mass atrocities. Civil society organizations, States, regional organizations, and international institutions all have a role to play in the R2P process. The authority to employ the last resort and intervene militarily rests solely with United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly.

The United Nations mandate

At the 2005 World Summit, Member States included R2P in the Outcome Document agreeing to Paragraphs 138 and 139. These paragraphs gave final language to the scope of R2P. It applies to the four mass atrocities crimes only. It also identifies to whom the R2P protocol applies, i.e., nations first, regional and international communities second.

Paragraphs 138 and 139 state:

138. 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 that responsibility and will act in accordance with it. The international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability.

139. The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for the General Assembly to continue consideration of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter and international law. We also intend to commit ourselves, as necessary and appropriate, to helping States build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and to assisting those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out.

2005 World Summit Outcome Document.[3]

In April 2006, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reaffirmed the provisions of paragraphs 138 and 139 in resolution (S/RES/1674). This formalized their support for the Responsibility to Protect.[10] The next major advancement in R2P came in January 2009, when UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a report called Implementing the Responsibility to Protect.[11] His report led to a debate in the General Assembly in July 2009 and the first time since 2005 that the General Assembly had come together to discuss the responsibility to protect. Ninety-four member states spoke. Most supported the R2P principle although some important concerns were voiced. They discussed how to implement R2P in crisis situations around the world. The debate highlighted the need for regional organizations like the African Union to play a strong role in implementing R2P; the need for stronger early warning mechanisms in the United Nations; and the need to clarify the roles UN bodies would play in implementing R2P.[12][13]

One outcome of the debate was the first resolution referencing R2P adopted by the General Assembly. The Resolution (A/RES/63/308) showed that the international community had not forgotten about the concept of the responsibility to protect and it decided “to continue its consideration of the responsibility to protect.”[14]

In practice

Threshold for military interventions

According to the International Commission for Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) Report in 2001 (which was not adopted by national governments), any form of a military intervention initiated under the premise of responsibility to protect must fulfill the following six criteria in order to be justified as an extraordinary measure of intervention:

  1. Just Cause
  2. Right Intention
  3. Final Resort
  4. Legitimate Authority
  5. Proportional Means
  6. Reasonable Prospect

R2P scope

The scope of R2P is often questioned. The concern is whether R2P should apply to more than the four crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing. For example, should R2P be used to protect civilians in peril following natural disasters? In general, the consensus is that the scope of R2P should remain narrow and well-defined. At the General Assembly debate on R2P in July 2009, several Member States reaffirmed the original scope of R2P and said that broadening the applicability of R2P could diminish its effectiveness.

Use of military intervention

The question of military intervention under the third pillar of R2P remains controversial.[22] Several states have argued that R2P should not allow the international community to intervene militarily on States, because to do so is an infringement upon sovereignty. Others argue that this a necessary facet of R2P, and is necessary as a last resort to stop mass atrocities. A related argument surrounds the question as to whether more specific criteria should be developed to determine when the Security Council should authorize military intervention.

Selectivity in the Security Council

Another concern surrounding R2P is that the Security Council in the UN, when deciding to which crises R2P applies, have been selective and biased. A veto from one of the five permanent members brings bias to the process. As an example, the UNSC did not vote to intervene in Chechnya because Russia opposed such action.[23] This has been acknowledged as an issue of major concern, and has hindered the implementation of R2P. Some of those involved advocate that the UNSC permanent members agree not to use their veto when proven mass atrocities are taking place.[citation needed]

See also

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