Our Responsibility to Protect
On paper at least, we’ve now committed to the idea that with sovereignty, comes responsibility; a responsibility to protect civilians from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
R2P and the preceding International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) was to be the answer to the question, “How should we respond to the inaction and muddled intervention in Kosovo (1999), Bosnia (1995), Rwanda (1994) and Somalia (1993).”
Here’s how it reads in the approved 2005 World Summit Outcome Document. The questions remains, how will it play out, if at all?
Excerpt on the ‘responsibility to protect’ from the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, which was adopted by the General Assembly on October, 24, 2005.
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.