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International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect
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Prevention Newsletter
United States Institute of Peace
January 2012
During the 2005 UN World Summit, heads of state and government unanimously embraced their Responsibility to Protect civilians from mass atrocities. In the following UN dialogues on R2P conceptual discussions were gradually replaced by operational debates. The question was no longer what this new acronym entailed, but how it could be implemented. (…)
In order to shape the debate on the use of “humanitarian force” post-Libya, Brazil repackaged the “do no harm” principle, urging for strict limitations on the use of military force and mechanisms to avoid the misuse of R2P. So far, the response by R2P advocates has been lukewarm. Both President Rousseff’s speech and the concept note from the Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations, Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, formulate a distinction between collective responsibilities and collective security, and propose a chronological sequencing of R2P’s three pillars—the protection responsibilities of each State, international assistance and capacity-building, and timely and decisive response. These proposals raise numerous concerns, as they could undermine existing agreements and strategic proposals.(…)
All things considered, this Brazilian initiative represents a constructive proposal that deserves consideration in upcoming GA discussions. The proposed concept is largely complementary to existing agreements, and could help bridge the deep divide between advocates and opponents that obstructs a normative convergence on R2P. In 2011, the buy-in of emerging powers has proven to be critical to the ability of the international community to address the risk of mass atrocities. Whether the Brazilian proposal represents a threat to or opportunity for R2P will depend on the ability of R2P advocates to engage the creators of this concept.(…)
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