The UK and the Responsibility to Protect
The 20th Anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide marks a reminder of a painful point in the recent history of UK foreign policy. The failure to prevent ethnic cleansing in Bosnia was, in the words of one commentator, the UK’s ‘unfinest hour’, and New Labour’s so-called ‘ethical foreign policy’ was in part a response to that failure. Since then, the UK has approached the challenge of mass atrocity prevention by re-examining its own policy and taking on a leadership role that befits its status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. This does not mean that it has sought to insulate the Council and the permanent members from the challenge. Rather the UK has realised that the Council’s credibility – and that of the permanent members – is weakened if Srebrenica-type massacres are not prevented. This has meant leading a process of fairly radical change in the way the Council relates to the question of mass atrocity prevention.
About the author:
Jason Ralph is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Asia Pacific Centre for R2P. He is a Professor of International Relations at the University of Leeds and a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellow.