Responsibility to protect
The R2P is the heir of the “right of humanitarian intervention”, a concept developed by Bernard Kouchner. It came to light in the 90’s when the international community failed to react to the mass atrocities faced by the civilians in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina. It differs from the right to intervene because it consists not only in a right, but also in a duty, under specific terms.
The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (established by Canada) published a report in 2002 entitled “The Responsibility to Protect”. It asserts that sovereignty entitles a State to “control” its domestic affairs, but it also confers to the State a “responsibility” to protect its population within its borders. It states that, where a State does not protect its population, this responsibility should be borne by the entire international community.
The United Nations acknowledges the concept in 2005 World Summit Outcome. Gathered in New York, The Head of States and Governments asserted that the international community, within the UN, has the duty to deploy diplomatic and humanitarian means as well as other pacific ones, in compliance with Chapters VI and VII of the UN Charter, in order to protect civilians from genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing.
In September 2009, the UN General assembly reasserted this principle through the Resolution 63/108 after having renewed the 2005 consensus during the debate organized by the President of the UN General Assembly in July 2009.
The Security Council, through Resolution 1894 (November 11th 2009) on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts, established a new link between the protection of civilians and its responsibility on the basis of the “responsibility to protect”.
The endorsement of this concept by the world’s Heads of State and Government represented a major political invention. For the first time, the idea that there is not merely a right but rather a duty for the international community to intervene in the case of massive human rights violations committed within a State was agreed by consensus.
Update : July 2010
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