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1. ICRtoP Voke Ighorodje participates in forum and gives statement on RtoP at ACHPR 46th session


7-9- November 2009


On 7-9 November 2009, the African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), in collaboration with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), hosted an NGO forum in advance of the 46th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on the Human and Peoples’ Rights and the 20th African Human Rights Book Fair. Over one hundred people participated in the NGO forum, which was held in Banjul, Gambia, to discuss the challenges to the promotion of human rights in Africa and to take steps to combat human rights abuses and irresponsible governance. The NGO Forum adopted Resolutions including one entitled “Strengthening the Responsibility to Protect in Africa”, but it was not subsequently adopted by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.


According to Mr. Voke Ighorodje, ICRtoP consultant in Nigeria who attended the forum, many NGO representatives expressed enthusiasm about integrating RtoP into their work to assist African nations in protecting their populations from genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing. Mr. Ighorodje was given the opportunity to deliver a statement to the Ordinary Session of the ACHPR in which he briefed governments about the July 2009 UN General Assembly debate on RtoP and the resulting resolution on RtoP.


NGO Forum adopts Resolution on “Strengthening RtoP in Africa”

RtoP was largely discussed at the NGO Forum, leading to the adoption of a Resolution entitled “Strengthening the Responsibility to Protect in Africa”. NGOs stated the following in the Resolution:


Recalling the adoption in 2005 of World Summit Outcome Document where UN Member States expressed in Paragraph 138 and 139, their commitment to protect civilians from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing; and the subsequent Security Council Resolution 1674 on the protection of civilians;


Re-affirming the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) 'Resolution on Strengthening the Responsibility to Protect in Africa (...) which was adopted at the 42nd Ordinary Session in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo in November 2007,


Welcome the report of the United Nations Secretary General on "Implementing the Responsibility to Protect' (A/63/677) especially the formulation of the 'three pillar approach'


Encouraged by the positive contributions of African governments during the July 2009 General Assembly debate on the Responsibility to Protect, in particular the reference by many ember states to Article 4(h) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union and its transition from the principle of non interference to the principle of non indifference;


Call on the African Commission on Human and People's Rights to:


Urge the member states of the African Union (AU) to make a priority in advancing efforts to prevent and halt genocide, war crimes, ethic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.


Urge the member states of the African Union (AU) to enhance early-warning mechanisms within the region, strengthen its collaboration with the UN and other regional bodies in the prevention of mass atrocity crimes, and provide assistance needed for states to fulfill their responsibility to protect their populations.


Urge the member states of the African Union (AU) to commit themselves to taking timely and appropriate action in specific situations where the crimes and violations threaten to occur.


See full text and 6 other Resolutions adopted at the Forum, including a Resolution on strengthening international justice in Africa.


Read the Final Communiqué from the 46th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR.



1. Responsibility to Protect is universal

Ramesh Thakur, Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Daily Yomiyuri Online

17 November 2009


Ramesh Thakur, Director of the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, discusses in a commentary for a news publication that developing nations almost universally support RtoP. Citing the July 2009 UN GA debate on RtoP where two thirds of the participating Member States were developing nations, Thakur explains that while aspects of the norm are contested, there is strong, widespread support and RtoP should not be viewed a “western” concept.


(…)When R2P-skeptics organized a debate on R2P at the U.N. General Assembly in July, many of us feared the worst. The debate was called for by General Assembly President Father Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua, who in his background note described R2P as a "redecorated colonialism." He cited the case of Iraq as an example of R2P being abused, even though the U.S.-led invasion of the country took place more than two years before R2P's adoption.


It turns out we had mistaken the volubility of the few for broad support among many. Because the expected sparks did not fly, the international press did not follow up predebate warnings of a bust-up with post-debate coverage of strong support for R2P--what bleeds leads, what does not bleed dies as a news story. Consequently, many retain an erroneous impression of the extent of opposition to R2P.


Compared with the industrialized Western countries, developing countries are generally more interested in justice among rather than within nations, more concerned about the root causes of terrorism such as poverty, illiteracy and territorial grievances, more interested in economic development than worried about nuclear proliferation, and more committed to the defense of national sovereignty than the promotion of human rights. Individual differences within developing countries and among Westerners does not invalidate the generalization.


R2P is about protecting at-risk populations mainly in developing countries. Because they will be the primary victims and potential beneficiaries, the conversation on R2P should be principally among them. In an attempt to paint R2P as largely a Western preoccupation, three of the four invited expert speakers in the General Assembly debate were Westerners. The ploy failed.


The debate was addressed by 94 speakers, nearly two-thirds from developing countries. Almost all reaffirmed the 2005 consensus, expressed opposition to any effort to reopen it and insisted that its scope be restricted to the specified four crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing. Several expressed reservations about selectivity and double standards. Some urged voluntary self-restraint in the use of the veto when faced with atrocity crimes. (…)


There was near unanimity in accepting state and international responsibility to prevent atrocities through building state capacity and will, and providing international assistance, and in grounding these fundamental obligations in the U.N. Charter, human rights treaties and international humanitarian law. 


Most nations affirmed that, should other measures be inadequate, timely and decisive coercive action, including the use of force, was warranted to save lives. Few rejected the use of force in any circumstance. Only Cuba, Nicaragua, Sudan and Venezuela sought to roll back the 2005 consensus. It was good to have countries such as Japan and Indonesia speak out in support of R2P. To have India endorse it was especially gratifying.


Several speakers referred to such "root causes" as poverty and underdevelopment. Many talked of the need for a proper balance of responsibilities between the General Assembly and the U.N. Security Council in developing and implementing the new norm. Some pointed to a linkage between R2P and the agenda of international criminal prosecution.


The caveats notwithstanding, several kept coming back to the core of the R2P norm--that in extremis, something needed to be done to avoid a shameful repeat of Rwanda-type inaction. Thus Ghana's delegate noted that R2P attempted to strike a balance between noninterference and what the African Union called nonindifference. The pro-R2P interventions in the debate by the delegates of East Timor and Rwanda were particularly poignant.


Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is right to warn "it would be counterproductive, and possibly even destructive, to try to revisit the negotiations" that produced the 2005 consensus. China's Ambassador Liu Zhenmin, speaking in the Security Council, warned that "it's not appropriate to expand, willfully to interpret or even abuse" R2P.


Our ability and tools to act beyond our borders have increased tremendously and thereby increased demands and expectations "to do something." The choice in the real world is not between intervention and nonintervention, but between different modes of intervention: ad hoc or rules-based, unilateral or multilateral, and consensual or deeply divisive. R2Pwill help the world to be better prepared -- normatively, organizationally and operationally -- to meet the challenge wherever and whenever it again arises, as assuredly it will.


To interveners, R2P offers the prospect of more effective results. To potential targets of intervention, R2P offers the reassurance of a rules-based system. It is rooted in human solidarity, not in exceptionalism of the virtuous West against the evil rest. Absent an agreed new set of rules, there will be nothing to stop the powerful from intervening "anywhere and everywhere." This is why in the General Assembly debate, speaker after speaker, from the global North and South, described the 2005 endorsement of R2P as historic, because it spoke to the fundamental purposes of the United Nations and it responds to a critical challenge of the 21st century. (...)


Contrary to what many claim, R2P is rooted as firmly in indigenous values and traditions than in abstract notions of sovereignty derived from European thought and practice. (…) Still, support for R2P in the U.N. community is broad but not very deep. The July debate helped to sideline the small minority of skeptics, but probably only temporarily.


R2P is more about building state capacity than undermining state sovereignty. The scope for military intervention is narrow and tight. The instruments for implementing prevention and reconstruction responsibilities are plentiful. The 2005 formulation of R2P meets the minimum requirement of the call to action of classical humanitarian intervention while protecting the bottom line interests of developing countries and thereby assuaging their legitimate concerns. It navigates the treacherous shoals between the Scylla of callous indifference to the plight of victims and the Charybdis of self-righteous interference in others' internal affairs.


Read the full article.



1. La Responsabilité de Protéger: Où en est l’Union Européenne?

Les Cahiers du RMES

Le Réseau Multidisciplinaire d’Études Stratégiques

November 2009


The Réseau Multidisciplinaire d’Etudes Stratégiques (RMES) included in its Fall 2009 publication Les Cahiers du RMES, an article by Galia Glume and Quentin Martens discussing RtoP and the extent to which the EU has implemented the norm, La Responsabilité de Protéger: Où en est l’Union Européenne?


The article begins with a brief summary of RtoP and its evolution in the international community. It discusses the developments that led to the formulation of the RtoP concept, including the adoption of international laws such as the Geneva Convention and the increase in international crises. The article also discusses the ICISS report and the presence of RtoP in the United Nations.


According to the authors, the European Union, though supportive of RtoP, has yet to define the concept or mainstream RtoP in EU activities. There have been contrasting views on the scope of RtoP within Member States of the EU. Specifically, France advocated that the scope be broadened to include recovery from natural disasters, while the European Commission maintained that RtoP should only apply to the four crimes. The EU Parliament, the organ which has been the most consistently supportive of the norm, has yet to decide how RtoP can be implemented and the role that Member States should play in this implementation. Though the phrase ‘Responsibility to Protect’ may be included in speeches, RtoP principles are not being put into practice. The article explores the diplomatic and coercive tools of the European Union and how these tools have been employed in the past.   


The authors conclude with several recommendations for the EU and call on Member States and EU organs to continue debating the norm, with input from civil society, to define the principles and apply them to EU law. Other recommendations include building early warning mechanisms within the EU and incorporating RtoP into the European Security and Defense Policy, appointing a Special Representative for RtoP, and creating a special military division or stand-by army dedicated to missions of protection.



2. International Refugee Rights Initiative publication discusses GA RtoP debate and resolution

International Refugee Rights Initiative

November 2009


The International Refugee Rights Initiative, advocacy organization and ICRtoP member, included in the November 2009 issue of the Refugee Rights Newsletter, an article on the developments of RtoP in the UN General Assembly. In addition to highlighting the consensuses reached at the debate and the subsequent GA resolution on RtoP, the article discussed the next steps for implementation and some concerns presented during the debate.  



3. New Issue of Global Responsibility to Protect

Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

October 2009


A new issue of Global Responsibility to Protect (GR2P) is now available. Global Responsibility to Protect is the premier journal for the study and practice of the responsibility to protect (R2P). This journal seeks to publish the best and latest research on the R2P principle, its development as a new norm in global politics, its operationalization through the work of governments, international and regional organizations and NGOs, and finally, its relationship and applicability to past and present cases of genocide and mass atrocities including the global response to those cases. Global Responsibility to Protect also serves as a repository for lessons learned and analysis of best practices; it will disseminate information about the current status of R2P and efforts to realize its promise. Each issue contains research articles and at least one piece on the practicalities of R2P, be that the current state of R2P diplomacy or its application in the field. Global Responsibility to Protect promotes a universal understanding of R2P and efforts to realize it, through encouraging critical debate and diversity of opinion, and to acquaint a broad readership of scholars, practitioners, students and analysts with the principle and its operationalization. It encourages contributions from a variety of disciplines and professions who have something to say about R2P. Global Responsibility to Protect seeks insights and approaches from every region of the world that might contribute to understanding, operationalizing and applying R2P in practice. Authors are cordially invited to submit articles to the associate editor, Luke Glanville.   


This issue includes:

  • The Responsibility to Protect: A Framework for Confronting Identity-Based Atrocities by Sheri P. Rosenberg and Bryan R. Daves 
  • Responsibility to Protect: Coming of Age? by Donald Steinberg
  • Responsibility to Protect: Framework for Prevention by Sheri P. Rosenberg
  • (Re)Building the Rule of Law after Identity-Based Conflict: What Responsibility to Protect Practitioners Will Confront by William G. O'Neill
  • How to Use Risk Assessment and Early Warning in the Prevention and De-Escalation of Genocide and other Mass Atrocities by Barbara Harff
  • Vaciliating on Darfur: Responsibility to Protect, to Prosecute, or to Feed? by Kurt Mills
  • Stopping the Killing: The International Criminal Court and Juridical Determination of the Responsibility to Protectby Michael Contarino and Selena Lucent

Access the new issue.


4. Implementing the Responsibility to Protect: Asia Pacific in the 2009 GA Dialogue

Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

October 2009


It is generally acknowledged that the support of nations in the Asia-Pacific region was invaluable to the progress made in implementing RtoP at the July 2009 UN GA debate on RtoP. The APCR2P published a report detailing the role of Asia-Pacific nations during the debate, Implementing the Responsibility to Protect: Asia Pacific in the 2009 GA Dialogue. This report gives a summary of the background to the dialogue and then discusses the Asia-Pacific region, first outlining general consensuses and challenges, and then paying attention to each nation and their relations with the norm. 


Asia-Pacific nations in general agreed at the debate that Member States should work to implement RtoP not renegotiate it. These nations also affirmed the three pillars outlined in Ban Ki-moon’s report, Implementing the Responsibility to Protect. The report cites five strong consensuses between the Asia-Pacific nations present at the debate. Nations agreed that RtoP is first and foremost the state’s responsibility, that the third pillar includes peaceful measures and should not be narrowly considered at coercion or the use of force, that RtoP applies to four crimes, that RtoP should be implemented in a manner consistent with international law and the UN Charter, and that RtoP should be implemented in a non-selective way. The Asia-Pacific nations also agreed that the General Assembly should play a principal role in the implementation of RtoP. 


The report also identifies challenges that the Asia Pacific region will face in implementing RtoP. These challenges include building early warning mechanisms, clarifying the role of UN organs, clarifying the relationship between RtoP and economic development, strengthening Asia-Pacific regional arrangements, and clarifying both the scope of capacity building and the measures that states can take to implement Pillar One. 


Read the full report. 


5. Protection of Civilians and the Responsibility to Protect: Perspectives and Precedents in the Asia-Pacific

Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

October 2009


The APCR2P published a new report, Protection of Civilians and the Responsibility to Protect: Perspectives and Precedents in the Asia-Pacific, by Charles T. Hunt. This new report discusses POC and RtoP and their connection to one another, explaining that though the two concepts are closely linked, the scope of RtoP is narrower than that of POC, and RtoP applies to situations beyond armed conflict. Nations in the Asia-Pacific region, in spite of their traditional non-interventionist policies have been generally supportive of protecting populations. In briefing on the POC debates in the Security Council, the report specifically discusses the contributions of China, Indonesia, Viet Nam, Australia, Japan and Myanmar in the Security Council POC meetings in May 2008 and January 2009.


China was very vocal in connecting POC to RtoP and supporting both during the May 2008 meeting. Although maintaining that RtoP needs to be further defined, China’s attention to the concept and terms for its implementation showed a growing support for the norm. Later in January, China essentially reiterated its May 2008 statement, but paid less attention to RtoP. Indonesia did not use RtoP language during either meeting, but discussed the role the international community has to play in protecting populations. Viet Nam expressed support for RtoP principles during both meetings although focusing on capacity building and voicing the importance of non-interference. Australia has been a strong supporter of RtoP and focused on the operationalization of RtoP as part of the advancement of the POC agenda at both POC meetings. Japan has been very supportive of the POC agenda, and though preferring to focus on human security rather than RtoP, has also expressed support for the norm. Myanmar has been less supportive of RtoP, but did describe POC as needing an international instrument to enforce its agenda.


Read the full report.



1. Conference in Italy on non-state actors and implementing international humanitarian law  

United Nations System Staff College

International Institute of Humanitarian Law

10-11 December 2009


The United Nations System Staff College (UNSSC) and the International Institute of Humanitarian

Law (IIHL) are organizing a Round Table on “Non-State Actors and their impact on International

Humanitarian Law and Responsibility to Protect”, which will take place at the University of Turin

(Italy) on the 10th and 11th of December 2009.


The increased prevalence of Non-State Actors (NGOs, individuals, the media, organized armed groups, private military and security companies, international terrorist organizations) is one of the most significant developments in the last two decades. This rise is perceived as an opportunity to enhance international law but also as a growing challenge when it comes to the implementation. 


The Round Table seeks to address both perspectives with a special focus on Non-State Actors involvement in implementing International Humanitarian Law (IHL) norms and the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principles. 


To this purpose, one panel will be devoted to outlining the legal framework and identifying contemporary challenges to the traditional IHL system; another panel will offer an overview on NGOs specific experiences in implementing the R2P and in improving respect of IHL; and a third panel will be focused on the role played by the media. Sapna Chhatpar Considine, Project Manager at the ICRtoP Secretariat, will attend the conference and present on the role of civil society organizations on the second panel entitled “Voices from civil society: which role in the implementation of International Humanitarian Law and Responsibility to Protect?”.


View the conference program.


2. Conference in Cameroon on RtoP and UNEPS - Civilian Protection, UN Peacekeeping, and Human Security: Perspectives from the Central African Region

Global Action to Prevent War


17-18 February 2010


Global Action to Prevent War (GAPW) in collaboration with LUKMEF-Cameroon will convene an evening event and one-day workshop in Yaounde, Cameroon for government policymakers and civil society leaders from 17-18 February 2010. The program will highlight regional (Central African) responses to issues currently under review in the AU and UN such as civilian protection and responsibility to protect, conflict prevention and human security, and prospects for UN-based, rapid-response, standing peacekeeping capacity. This important event is the last in a series of consultations held earlier in 2009 in PretoriaJakarta and Brasilia for government officials, policymakers, academics and civil society leaders.


View the conference program.


3. International Studies Association annual convention to feature RtoP 

International Studies Association

17-20 February 2010


The International Studies Association (ISA) annual convention will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana from 17-20 February 2010. The conference, Theory vs. Policy? Connecting Scholars and Practioners, will feature over 800 panel discussions on topics including international human rights, the global economy, international business, and war studies. This year, staff from the ICRtoP Secretariat will attend the conference where scholars from universities and NGOs all over the world including Ramesh Thakur from the Balsillie School of International Affairs and representatives from the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect will speak on panels and give lectures on RtoP. To name only a few of the panels that will include a discussion of RtoP, The Ethics of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’: Critical PerspectivesThe Ethics of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’: Critical PerspectivesThe Responsibility to Protect (R2P): Normative Debates and Evolving PracticeMapping R2P in Latin AmericaResponsibility to Protect: From Rhetoric to Reality, and The English School and the Responsibility to Protect – Friends or Foes? 


View the conference program or find out more information.


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