R2P: The Next Decade
Stanley Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, MacArthur Foundation
18 January 2012
The conference “R2P: The Next Decade,” marking the 10th anniversary of the Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), which first articulated the Responsibility to Protect, took place on 18 January 2012 in New York City. The Stanley Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York and MacArthur Foundation hosted the conference, the agenda for which included a series of panel discussions on the norm “From ICISS to Today”, country cases, “Identifying Past and Potential Added Values”, “Domestic Implementation of RtoP”, and “R2P in 2022”.
Throughout the day, speakers asserted that RtoP was “here to stay”, and that rather than negotiate the merits of the norm, it was time to consider its implementation through a broad range of prevention, response and rebuilding measures. A particular emphasis was placed on prevention, as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who gave the keynote speech, declared 2012 the “Year of Prevention”. Civil society’s role in prevention was noted by several speakers alongside recommendations for increased use of observers and fact-finding missions, early warning mechanisms coordinating at the national, regional and international level, to employing diplomacy to prevent the escalation of conflict.
Numerous speakers addressed the use of force and the relationship between regime change and RtoP, with specific reference to the crisis in Libya. Speakers agreed that the regional and international response to the threat of mass atrocities in Libya was necessary, and thus an appropriate application of the norm. However, speakers stressed that regime change was not part of RtoP, and that concerns remained over the implementation of the mandate to enforce a no-fly zone. Reversing the backlash apparent in some Member State’s rationale for opposing any type of reaction to the violence in Syria, which conference participants largely saw to be negative and inadvertent, is an effort which still needs urgent attention.
Brazil’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, related the international response to the crisis in Libya and the need to reassess the use of force to Brazil’s recent concept, ‘responsibility while protecting’. Ambassador Viotti expressed hope that the concept would open dialogue on responding to mass atrocities. Introduced at the GA opening debate in September, the new initiative, articulated in a concept note, seems to emphasize the need for consistent monitoring throughout the duration of a military operation in response to mass atrocities. Among other points, the concept articulates that RtoP must not be misused for purposes other than civilian protection, including regime change, and that all three pillars must be implemented in a chronological sequence. Participants highlighted several areas of the concept to discuss further without expressing full agreement, and lauded the initiative as a forum for constructive dialogue on the norm.
The link between the ICC and RtoP was explored, with the Court as a preventive and response tool; however concern was noted over its employment during hostilities. Several speakers, including Special Adviser on RtoP Dr. Edward Luck, former Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axeworthy, and Prosecutor-elect of the ICC Fatou Bensouda hailed the ICC as an important tool in the RtoP framework. However, President of the International Crisis Group Louise Arbour expressed concern over the role of the Security Council in referring country cases to the ICC.
During the conference, remarks were made by over thirty high-level experts and diplomats, including Prosecutor-elect of the ICC Fatou Bensouda, Under-Secretary General (USG) for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe, USG for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous, USG and Executive Director of UN Women Michele Bachelet, Special Adviser on RtoP Dr. Edward Luck, Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Dr. Francis Deng and Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonovic. Civil society was also well-represented. Two ICRtoP members spoke on panels: the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect’s Executive Director, Noel Morada, and International Crisis Group’s President Louis Arbour. Further representing civil society,Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. Six of the Commissioners of the ICISS Report were also present, ICISS co-chairs Gareth Evans and Mohamed Sahnoun, Michael Ignatieff, Cornelio Sommaruga, Eduardo Stein and Ramesh Thakur.
Find videos of the panels, and interviews of former member of ICISS Dr. Michael Ignatieff, and Permanent Representative of India to the UN Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri.
For further ICRtoP analysis, view our blog post about this event.