The United Nations, R2P and Atrocity Prevention

In instances of dire threats to international peace and security, the UN Security Council holds the primary responsibility to rally the international community and ensure the cessation of hostilities and prevent further outbreaks of violence. Yet all too often, the Security Council is unable to effectively act on this responsibility due to the veto power of its five permanent members. Situations in Syria, Myanmar, Ukraine and elsewhere, which have seen the commission of atrocity crimes, are testament to this ineffectiveness.

In 2021, APR2P along with its partners launched a guidance document entitled The Powers of the UN General Assembly in International Law to Prevent and Respond to Atrocity Crimes. This document provides a guide to member States of the General Assembly on how to utilise the powers available to them in responding to atrocity crimes when the Security Council fails to do so.

That guidance document, along with associated work on the role of UN General Assembly in preventing and responding to atrocity crimes, can be found below.

2022 Article: What Does the 'Responsibility to Protect' Require of States in Ukraine?, by Rebecca Barber. Journal of International Peacekeeping, vol. 25, no. 2. 

2022 Article: The Role of the General Assembly In Determining the Legitimacy of Governments, by Rebecca Barber, International & Comparative Law Quarterly, vol. 71, no. 3. 

2022 Article: Cooperating Through the General Assembly to End Serious Breaches of Peremptory Norms, by Rebecca Barber, International & Comparative Law Quarterly, vol. 71, no. 1.

2021 Legal Opinion: United Nations Credentials Committee: Representation of the State of Myanmar to the United Nations, by Rebecca Barber et al. 

2021 Article: An Exploration of the General Assembly's Troubled Relationship with Unilateral Sanctions, by Rebecca Barber, International & Comparative Law Quarterly, vol. 70, no. 2. 

2021 Report: The Powers of the UN General Assembly to Prevent and Respond to Atrocity Crimes: A Guidance Document, (PDF, 2.3MB), by Rebecca Barber.

2020 Article: Revisiting the Legal Effect of General Assembly Resolutions: Can an Authorising Competence for the Assembly be Grounded in the Assembly's 'Established Practice', 'Subsequent Practice' or Customary International Law?, by Rebecca Barber, Journal of Conflict and Security Law, vol. 26, no. 1. 

2020 Article: A survey of the General Assembly's competence in matters of international peace and security: in law and practice, by Rebecca Barber, Journal on the Use of Force and International Law, vol. 8, no. 1. 

2020 Book Chapter: Does International Law Permit the Provision of Humanitarian Assistance Without Host State Consent? Territorial Integrity, Necessity and the Determinative Function of the General Assembly, by Rebecca Barber. Part of the Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law, vol. 23 (2020).


2022 Webinar: Myanmar's Representation at the UN, by APR2P and the Myanmar Acountability Project. 

2021 Webinar: The Powers of the UN General Assembly to Prevent and Halt Mass Atrocity Crimes, by the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.

2021 Launch Event: The Powers of the UN General Assembly to Prevent and Respond to Atrocity Crimes.

Rebecca Barber, Addressing atrocity crimes at the United Nations General Assembly's 77th Session, Just Security, 21 September 2022.

Rebecca Barber, The People of Myanmar Need to Be Heard, Not Ostracized, on the International Stage, Just Security, 29 March 2022.

Rebecca Barber, Could Russia be Suspended from the United Nations?, EJIL: Talk!, 1 March 2022.

Rebecca Barber, What can the UN General Assembly do about Russian Aggression in Ukraine?, EJIL: Talk!, 26 February 2022.

Rebecca Barber, How Should Governments Decide Whether or not to Recognise other Governments, and can the General Assembly Help?, EJIL: Talk!, 6 December 2021.

Rebecca Barber, How the UN General Assembly Can Respond to Atrocity Crimes at Its 76th Session, Just Security, 14 September 2021.

Rebecca Barber et al, Myanmar's Credentials at the UN, PassBlue, 12 September 2021.

Rebecca Barber, Will the Taliban Represent Afghanistan at the UN General Assembly?, EJIL: Talk!, 1 September 2021. 

Rebecca Barber, The UN Has Options Byond the Security Council for Cross-Border Aid to Syria, Just Security, 21 June 2021.

Rebecca Barber, The General Assembly should provide guidance to the UN system on the question of who gets to represent Myanmar, EJIL: Talk!, 7 June 2021. 

Rebecca Barber and Alex Bellamy, General Assembly It's time to step up response to massive human rights violations, International Service for Human Rights, 4 May 2021.

Rebecca Barber, Could the General Assembly Exclude Myanmar from the UN by Refusing to Recognise the Credentials of its Ruling Military Junta?, EJIL: Talk!, 26 February 2021.

Rebecca Barber, UN Security Council Won't Respond to Myanmar's Coup, But the General Assembly Can, Just Security, 25 February 2021.

Rebecca Barber, Reassessing the Role of the UN Security Council, Australian Outlook, 19 May 2020. 

Rebecca Barber, Syria: What the UN can do, and must do, The Interpreter, 3 March 2020. 

Rebecca Barber, Is Security Council Authorisation Really Necessary to Allow Cross-Border Humanitarian Assistance in Syria?, EJIL: Talk!, 24 February 2020.

The UNGA and Accountability in Ukraine, Law and the Future of War, The University of Queensland. Discussion with Rebecca Barber on the power of the General Assembly and its role in providing accountability for actors in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Expert Voices on Atrocity Prevention Episode 9B: Rebecca Barber, Expert Voices on Atrocity Prevention Podcast, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. Discussion with Rebecca Barber on the international response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the role of the General Assembly. 

From Russia With War, EJIL: The Podcast!, EJIL: Talk!. Rebecca Barber joins Dapo Akande, Philippa Webb, Marko Milanovic and Mike Becker to discuss the response by the General Assembly and the Security Council to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.