Australia and the Responsibility to Protect
Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
There are many reasons why R2P has transitioned from being an emerging norm, as it was spoken about in the middle of the last decade, to an action guiding norm that has widespread support today. Of these, there is no doubt that consistent and enduring support from successive Australian governments has been an important variable in explaining the evolution of R2P. Indeed, it should be remembered that there has been a bipartisan commitment to the protection of populations at risk from mass atrocities stretching back over many years. Recall that it was the government led by Prime Minister John Howard that undertook the interventions in East Timor (1999) and the Solomon Islands (2003), both of which are now heralded as early examples underscoring the responsibility to assist states under stress and to protect populations at grave risk (in World Summit speak: Pillar 2 and Pillar 3 responsibilities). More recently, the bipartisan appeal of R2P prompted former Liberal Party Foreign Minister Alexander Downer to note that he was ‘at one’ with his long-serving Labour predecessor Gareth Evans in calling for Australia to show leadership in international affairs by making R2P ‘a major priority’.
The Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect released a brief analysis of the key drivers of the process of norm transmission that highlights Australia’s enduring contribution to the emergence, consolidation and institutionalisation of R2P. The analysis concludes with recommendations for Australia’s continued support for R2P under the leadership of Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
Read the full brief here.