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ICRtoP Summary of Secretary General's Report on RtoP
A Vital and Enduring Commitment: Implementing the Responsibility to Protect
August 11th 2015


"In August 2015, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released his seventh report on the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP, R2P), “A vital and enduring commitment: implementing the responsibility to protect”. The report reiterated the commitment that States made a decade ago, i.e. to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing as articulated in paragraphs 138 and 139 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document. The report assessed the progression of the RtoP norm over the past ten years, identified core challenges and opportunities for implementation, and detailed six core priorities for the international community to undertake to more effectively fulfill RtoP. Over the past decade, there have been situations in which the international community has responded proactively to the risk of atrocities and acted to prevent their recurrence, as well as cases where the international community ultimately failed to adequately protect populations. Through the discussion of the cases of Libya and Syria, the Secretary-General recognized the practical challenges that remain for RtoP’s effective implementation. The international action taken in Libya highlights the need to better understand when and how force should be used as well as the necessity of long-term support. In addition, the inability to effectively prevent and respond to the crisis in Syria has led some to criticize the norm’s utility in catalyzing action, which has further contributed to misconceptions of RtoP as a coercive doctrine. Despite such issues, the Secretary-General stated that this “should not shake our resolve to live up to the responsibilities” agreed to in 2005. He noted that a cross-regional consensus has developed on the core framework of RtoP, one which encompasses the need to a) prioritize prevention; b) utilize all available diplomatic, political, and humanitarian tools; c) consider military force as a last resort and to be used only in accordance with the UN Charter."

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