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Panel no. 44
Responsibility to protect: the outcome of Wilsons dream
or the prelude to Beck's nightmare?r World Conference of Humanitarian Studies
4-8 February 2009
Groningen, The Netherlands

As part of the first ever orld Conference of Humanitarian Studies, organised by the University of Wageningen (Netherlands) , the University of Groningen (Netherlands) and the Institute of International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict at the University of Boechem (Germany) a panel has been organised on the Responsibility to Protect. The organisers welcome paper proposals that fit within the below panel description. Proposals can be submitted on the website under panel no. 44. The organisers especially welcome contributions from the Global South. (...)

Panel description
When late president Woodrow Wilson drafted a scheme for a post-war organisation of nation states, he was convinced that this `League of Nations would only be effective to ward off future disasters if its members would relinquish a significant portion of their sovereignty to this League. He died of a stroke while touring the country to get the Senate's support for his view and the sovereignty doctrine became the corner stone of the United Nations. Until almost a life-span later, when in September 2005, the United Nations (UN) World Summit endorsed the `Responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity'. This agreement which was confirmed by a resolution of the UN Security Council in April 2006 (1674/2006), states that the international community, acting through the United Nations, has the duty to assist in protecting peoples or groups from genocide and other atrocities when their own governments fail to do so. It does as such in principle legitimate the Security Council to override state sovereignty to end those gross violations of human rights.

In practice however, the R2P-concept has barely been translated into real action since its inception in 2005, at least not to the extent and nature envisioned by its founders. According to one of its strongest advocates Gareth Evans, this is simply a matter of time and process. Just like the introduction of human rights, intensive world-wide public and political debates are needed so that advocates and opponents can develop a common and clear understanding of its meaning, scope and implications, and accept it as a legitimate tool. More critical voices point to the negative reception of the concept amongst some Southern representatives, who fear that R2P is nothing more than `the white mans right to intervene. They warn that the two permanent members of the UN Security Council China and Russia are increasingly using their veto invoking the principle of sovereignty, and that this might point toward a back-lash effect of R2P on the UNSCs ability to (re)act. This brings us to the main question of this panel: Will the Responsibility to Protect enhance or paralyze the ability of the UN system to effectively respond to end or prevent mass atrocities?

We are inviting papers that seek to answer this main question through two different approaches. The first will try to answer the main question by studying the politics and discourse of the R2P concept: How has the R2P concept been received by various international representatives thus far? How does it resonate with other main international political discussions about security and peace, such as those on the ar on terror and on the universality of human rights?

The second approach will try to answer the main question on a more concrete level, by studying the international system, rules and mechanisms needed to effectively apply R2P as a tool for action. The United Nations play a key role in the development of an international protection regime, but also regional organizations might move this process forward and offer solutions when the UN is unwilling or unable to do so. What role can international and regional organizations play in turning the R2P concept into an international protection regime comprising a body of international rules and operational mechanisms particularly designed to prevent or end large scale atrocities?

For technical enquiries regarding submitting proposals, please contact Dieneke Niks at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
For enquiries regarding the content of this panel 44, please contact Annette Jansen, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Paper Specifications:
The call for papers opened on 15 June 2008. Paper proposals should fit into one of the proposed panels.

To be able to submit Papers you first have to create an account.
Login with this account and go to Submit/Edit Paper, upload your paper abstract (max. 250 words) and select the panel of your choice from the menu. Deadline for submitting your paper abstract is 30 October 2008.

Full papers should be between 4.000 and 10.000 words and should be completed before the conference date. Authors can opt for their papers to be distributed to the conference participants in advance through a cd-rom, under reference that copy right is and remains with the author(s) of the paper and that the materials are not for further distributing. In this case, full papers should be delivered electronically to the Conference Secretariat before 1 January 2009. Authors who forego this possibility or who do not deliver their paper before the deadline, may opt for the distribution of a hard copy of their paper just before the conference starts.

Please, bear in mind that access to the conference is first and foremost dependent upon delivery of a paper. Participation without a paper will be decided on at a later stage.
R2P Call for Papers.doc

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