The Responsibility To Protect

Devastating tragedies such as the genocide in Rwanda and the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo have challenged the traditional conceptions of state sovereignty in the international community. In the 2005 World Summit outcome document, states unanimously signed their support for the idea of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P).

This norm reinforces the idea of sovereignty as responsibility and can be divided into three main pillars:

Pillar One
States have the primary responsibility to protecttheir citizens from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

Pillar Two
The international society must assist states in carrying out their responsibility to protect, and should help those states that are under stress.

Pillar Three
If a state fails to protect its citizens, or commits crimes against them, the international community has a responsibility to act collectively using a range of political, economic and humanitarian means depending on the case. If these fail, they must use forceful measures, authorised by the UN Security Council, following the rules laid out in the UN Charter.

Very few people have heard of R2P, and yet it is playing an increasingly vital role in international relations, as we saw in Libya and are seeing in many of the debates surrounding Syria. It is for this reason that UNA Wales is campaigning on the issue – we believe the public should know more about this ever important norm.

UNA Wales firmly supports the idea of sovereignty as responsibility; we believe that states do have a duty to protect their citizens. We also believe that assisting states in this capacity is vital, and advocate the use of preventative action, such as monitoring countries and creating early warning systems. These can enable the international community to assist states before an uneasy situation turns violent.

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