Responsibility to Protect

CLAIHR strongly supports and promotes the use of the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (R2P”).  The R2P doctrine is the result of a report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, in which Canada played a central role under the direction of our then Ambassador to the United Nations, Hon. Allan Rock.   2011 has seen R2P come to the fore in discussions about how Canada and other nations should respond to the great number of internal conflicts the world has witnessed this year alone.  2011 is also the 10th anniversary of this important development in international law.  CLAIHR is proud to be the only Canadian member of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect.

R2P Symposium

CLAIHR is commemorating the 10th anniversary of the R2P with a year-long symposium.  Our opening event featured Michael Ignatieff at Hart House in Toronto on October 26, 2011.  Professor Ignatieff discussed Canada’s role in international R2P operations and diplomacy and where he sees our future as a nation on the world stage.  

Coming Up September 27, 2012 – To close the symposium, CLAIHR is proud to present a panel discussion entitled, ” Perspectives on Intervention” in Toronto. Panelists who have first hand experience with international intervention will share their insights. Senator Romeo Dallaire will share his experiences and perspectives on intervention from the vantage point being on the ground in Rwanda as part of the UN Mission during the genocide of 1994. Senator Eggleton will share his thoughts from his perspective as the Minister of Defence during the NATO intervention in Kosovo in 1999. Return back to this page for more details on this event as they become available.

What is R2P?

The main concept underlying R2P is that the traditional approach of humanitarian intervention was too blunt a tool to address situations of internal strife causing humanitarian crises.  As a more modern approach and with greater deference to state sovereignty, R2P has three pillars:

1) The State bears the primary responsibility to protect its populations from mass atrocities;

2) The international community has a responsibility to assist States in protecting their populations; and

3) When the State is unwilling or unable to protect their populations, and on a case by case basis, the international community has a responsibility to take collective action in a timely and decisive manner in order to provide protection to the population affected.

Under the third pillar, the international community has a number of options at its disposal aside from military intervention such as preventative diplomacy, fact finding missions, economic sanctions and embargoes and military operations such as no-fly zones, monitoring and civilians defence missions.  Importantly, military measures under this third pillar must be authorized by the U.N. Security Council and only when peaceful measures have proved inadequate.  Humanitarian intervention, however, is not authorized under this third pillar as it is defined as unauthorized coercive action (unilateral or multilateral). Moreover, humanitarian intervention has not been endorsed as a norm by member states of the U.N.

R2P Events

On October 20 and 21  the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia University will be holding an important conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P).

On November 12, the Canadian Centre for Responsibility to Protect will be hosting a conference, Ten Years after ICISS: Reflections for the Past and Future of R2P, commemorating the 10th anniversary of R2P.