F. Responsibility to protect (R2P)

The principle of the responsibility to protect (R2P) aims to prevent the most serious violations of human rights. According to R2P, every state is responsible for the protection of its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. If it is unable or unwilling to do so, the international community should, as appropriate, take measures to protect the civilian population within this state.

R2P is anchored in the outcome document of the 2005 UN World Summit. The idea of the responsibility to protect evolved from the discussion on humanitarian intervention (e.g. in Kosovo) at the end of the 1990s. The conceptual development of R2P took place in several commissions and reports in preparation for the 2005 World Summit in New York, where it was formally recognised by UN Member States after protracted negotiations. The realm of application for R2P was explicitly limited to the four cases of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In the final resolution, states affirmed their responsibility to employ, through the UN, the “appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter to help protect populations”. In case national authorities should fail to do so and peaceful means proved not to be sufficient, UN Member States declared that they were “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 organisations as appropriate”.