The Responsibility to Protect

At the 2005 World Summit, the largest ever gathering of governments and heads of state, world leaders endorsed the Responsibility to Protect (R2P); a framework for preventing and responding to atrocity crimes, namely genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing

The Three Pillars of R2P

Following the World Summit, in 2009 the UN Secretary-General published a report outlining a strategy for implementing R2P, comprising of three mutually-reinforcing 'pillars' that stipulate:

  1. Each individual State bears the primary responsibility for protecting its own populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. 
  2. The international community has a responsibility to encourage and assist States in fulfilling this primary responsibility.
  3. The international community has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means to protect populations from these crimes. Should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities of States manifestly fail to protect their populations from these crimes, the international community must be prepared to take timely and decisive action to protect those populations at risk, in accordance with the UN Charter. 

The full report by the Secretary-General, as well as other core R2P documents, can be found on the Resources page.