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24 September 2008
Responsibility to Protect-Engaging Civil Society
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In this issue:

I. Ban Ki-moon cites R2P in statement at opening session of the 63rd UN General Assembly
II. Gareth Evans Book Launch: The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All
III. Editorials citing R2P
IV. Reports Featuring R2P
V. Related Reports

I. Ban Ki-moon cites R2P in statement at opening session of the 63rd UN General Assembly
Welcome to the opening of the general debate of the 63rd session of the General Assembly. It is customary for the Secretary-General, on this occasion, to assess the state of the world and to present our vision for the coming year.()
[Unofficial translation from French into English]: I am thinking, above all, about human rights. We absolutely must give life to the principle according to which justice is seen as a pillar of peace, security and development. We must put the Responsibility to Protect into effect. We understand that in these areas, all is not black or white. We admit that policies may be very complex and require continuing compromises. However, crimes against humanity cannot go unpunished. We have the means to combat impunity. And so we must do so. ()
For full transcript:

II. Gareth Evans Book Launch: The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All
Gareth Evans, former Foreign Minister of Australia, is the president of International Crisis Group (ICG), an NGO that is committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict through analysis and peacekeeping measures. He was also co-chair of the International Commission on State Sovereignty (ICISS) which released the Responsibility to Protect report in 2001. His new book, The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and for All, was launched on 17 September 2008. The launch was held at the International Peace Institute, and speakers included Dr. Monica Serrrano, the incoming Executive Director of the Global Centre for R2P, and Dr. Edward Luck, Special Advisor to the Secretary General on R2P.
1. International Crisis Group Press Release
Brussels, 12 September 2008
The International Crisis Group is pleased to announce the release of a new book by its president, Gareth Evans, The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and for All, published by Brookings Institution Press.

After the Holocaust, the world vowed it would ever again! permit such atrocities to occur. Yet many mass atrocity crimes have since gone unchecked, from the killing fields of Cambodia to the machetes of Rwanda to the ongoing nightmare in Darfur. In this new book, International Crisis Group President Gareth Evans shows how the emergence of the new Responsibility to Protect (R2P) norm has fundamentally changed this landscape and can effectively mean an end once and for all to such large scale suffering.
The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) concept was born out of the catastrophes in Rwanda and the Balkans in the 1990s and captures a simple and powerful idea. The primary responsibility for protecting its own people from mass atrocity crimes lies with the state itself. State sovereignty implies responsibility, not a license to kill.
But when a state is unwilling or unable to halt or avert such crimes, the wider international community then has a collective responsibility to take appropriate action, not excluding the use of military force in extreme and exceptional cases.
R2P was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly at the 2005 World Summit. But many misunderstandings persist about its scope and limits, compounded by its use and misuse in debates about the appropriate reaction to recent events, for example, in Iraq, Darfur, Myanmar and Georgia. And much remains to be done to solidify political support and to build institutional capacity.
The book examines how big a break R2P represents from the past, and how, with understanding of its scope, and its acceptance in principle and effective application in practice, the promise of ever again! can at last become a reality.
The Author
Gareth Evans has been President and CEO of the International Crisis Group since 2000, after serving eight years as Australias Foreign Minister. Evans co-chaired the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty that initiated the Responsibility to Protect concept in 2001, and he was a member of the UN Secretary-Generals High Level Panel in 2004 that successfully proposed its adoption by the 2005 UN World Summit.
Book launch events with Gareth Evans and special guest speakers:
17 September, New York: with Romeo Dallaire, hosted by the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and the International Peace Institute, 777 United Nations Plaza, 44th Street and 1st Avenue, 12th Floor; 1pm to 3pm
22 September, London: with Lord Patten of Barnes and Lord Hannay of Chiswick; hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Arundel House, 13-15 Arundel Street, Temple Place, WC2R 3DX;11am to 1230pm
7 October, Brussels: with Eric Chevallier, Joschka Fischer and Emma Bonino; at Residence Palace, Polak Room, Rue de la Loi 155; 11am-1230pm
28 October, Washington, DC: hosted by Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW 20004-3027; 10am to 1130am
If you would like to attend any of these launch events, please send a short email with your name, affiliation and launch city to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
International Crisis Group page on Evans book:

2. Rebranding Responsibility to Protect, Gareth Evans Says Somalias Not Covered
Inner City Press
Matthew Russell Lee
17 September 2008

The following article is in response to questions asked of Evans of the R2P situation in Somalia, and the authors criticism that the situation was not et labeled as R2P.

If Somalia, where civilians are killed every day in a cross fire between Ethiopian occupiers and Islamic insurgents, does not trigger the so-called Responsibility to Protect, what good is R2P? Australia's former foreign minister Gareth Evans was asked this question on September 17, as he pitched his R2P book to a handful of reporters including Inner City Press. "It's not a classic situation," Evans said of Somalia. "It has the capacity of deteriorating into mass atrocity crimes."

But how many deaths does it take? Evans listed the now-stemmed violence in Kenya as "classic R2P;" a photograph from Kenya is on the jacket of his book and he noted that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon cited R2P during the Kenya crisis. But the death toll by violence in Somalia is higher, and there is no end in sight. When Inner City Press pursued the issue, Evans turned to a fellow staffer of the International Crisis Group, who gently disagreed with her boss, saying that Somalia is a classic case, in that the government is not only unwilling but also unable to protect the people of the country. She acknowledged that war crimes are being committed, including by the Ethiopian troops. Somalia would be R2P, she said, except no one wants to go.

Evans made this same point about Darfur, noting that while none of the 22 needed helicopters has been given, there are some 11,872 suitable helicopters available around the world. Still, Evans argued against invoking R2P in Darfur, saying that it failed the "balance of consequences" test, in that intervention would put at risk the 2.5 million internally displaced people, and the North-South Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

Evans rather posited Burundi as a victory for R2P, a concept which he said needs to be "re-branded." The first conceptual switch, he said, was from the French-inspired idea of the right to intervene to R2P, which is at least phrased from the point of view of the victims. Still, it was pointed out to him that R2P is often called just a reinterpretation of the white man's burden. Evans countered that on a recent trip to New Delhi and Islamabad, he found "senior levels" of the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministries open to R2P, more so that the "multilaterals here" at the UN, who he said are suffering from "buyer's remorse" after agreeing in 2005 to R2P.

Inner City Press asked Evans if he thinks China and Russia will invoke the concept any time soon. After pointing out Chinese representation on the High Level Panel that formalized the idea, Evans criticized Russia's citing to R2P for its actions in South Ossetia. "To defend your own nationals is not R2P," he said, "it's national self-defense, under Article 51 of the UN charter." He said that Russia "misused" the concept of R2P, while in his view France and Bernard Kouchner only "put at risk the consensus" by linking R2P to General Than Shwe's blockage of foreign aid to Myanmar after cyclone Nargis. ()


III. Editorials citing R2P

1. Deferral of ICC indictment is against Justice in Darfur
Sudan Times
Mahmoud A. Suleiman
20 September 2008

Dr. Mahmoud Suleiman is the Deputy Chairman for the General Congress of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). JEM is one of the key players in the Darfur conflict, and has fought alongside the Sudanese Liberation Movement (SLM) against the government forces and Janjawid. Dr. Suleiman advocates for the ICC indictment to go through the UN Security Council, and not be locked by political reasoning by countries with vetoing power, namely France and the United States.
Media reports talk of the British and French governments will back efforts in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to stall the International Criminal Court (ICC) issuance of an arrest warrant against president of Sudan, Omer Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir in order to protect the peace process in Darfur and Southern Sudan. It is flabbergasting and disappointing to the victims of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. If this is actually true, despite the fact that both countries are members of the ICC and have been the main advocates at the UNSC for referring the Darfur case to the Court, their credibility will be called into question. ()
Sudan signed but has not ratified the Rome Statute of the (ICC) and is refusing to cooperate with its jurisdiction, but the UNSC triggered the provisions under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, to enables it to refer situations in non-State parties to the world court if it deems that it is a Threat to International Peace and security. This is beside Responsibility to Protect (R2P) Principle which in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, the UN member countries are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner through the UNSC. President Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir will not be able to escape with impunity without being subjected to justice for the crimes he committed and is continuing to commit against the people of Sudan in Darfur no matter how long it takes. ()

2. Darfur, ICC, and the New Humanitarian Order
All Africa
Mahmood Mamdani
18 September 2008

Mahmood Mamdani is a pre-eminent scholar and intellectual in the fields of African history, politics and international relations. The following essay are his thoughts on the recent International Criminal Court (ICC) indictment for crimes of genocide against President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan. He is currently the Herbert Lehman Professor of Government in the fields of Political Science and Anthropology at Columbia University, and head of the African Studies Program.

On July 14, after much advance publicity and fanfare, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court applied for an arrest warrant for the president of Sudan, Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, on charges that included genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Important questions of fact arise from the application as presented by the prosecutor. But even more important is the light this case sheds on the politics of the "new humanitarian order." ()

This new humanitarian order, officially adopted at the UN's 2005 World Summit, claims responsibility for the protection of vulnerable populations. That responsibility is said to belong to "the international community," to be exercised in practice by the UN, and in particular by the Security Council, whose permanent members are the great powers. This new order is sanctioned in a language that departs markedly from the older language of law and citizenship. It describes as "human" the populations to be protected and as "humanitarian" the crisis they suffer from, the intervention that promises to rescue them and the agencies that seek to carry out intervention. Whereas the language of sovereignty is profoundly political, that of humanitarian intervention is profoundly apolitical, and sometimes even anti-political. Looked at closely and critically, what we are witnessing is not a global but a partial transition. The transition from the old system of sovereignty to a new humanitarian order is confined to those states defined as "failed" or "rogue" states. The result is once again a bifurcated system, whereby state sovereignty obtains in large parts of the world but is suspended in more and more countries in Africa and the Middle East. ()

It takes no great intellectual effort to recognize that the responsibility to protect has always been the sovereign's obligation. It is not that a new principle has been introduced; rather, its terms have been radically altered. To grasp this shift, we need to ask: who has the responsibility to protect whom, under what conditions and toward what end? ()


3. Where is the Will to Act?
The Advertiser
Mark Schneider
13 September 2008

Mark Schneider is the vice president of the International Crisis Group. The following essay was published in The Advertiser and is extracted from testimony given to the US Senate on 17 June, 2008. To read his full testimony, please see

THE recent humanitarian crisis in Burma following the devastation of Cyclone Nargis has raised again the question of the policy options available to the international community when governments pose the risk of large-scale loss of human life to their own people.

Darfur, and most recently Zimbabwe, raises the same complex questions of what recourse exists when a government's actions, its failure to act or its inability to act produce massive humanitarian crises. ()

In the Burma/Myanmar context, many voices were heard from aid agencies and others arguing that as a practical matter, military intervention would not work or make matters on the ground even worse for the affected population.

There are no easy answers to any of these questions. Overall the diplomatic pressure did have some effect and the R2P argument was part of it.

In the case of Zimbabwe, if the hijacking of food relief aid continues as well as the widespread denial of food assistance to the political opposition in Zimbabwe continues, we may well have to ask whether we are approaching a similar R2P situation in which crimes against humanity, not just lesser human-rights violations, are involved. At the very least, re-energized diplomatic efforts are urgently called for both, with respect to the humanitarian crisis and with respect to the political crisis. About four million people are in need of food aid.

The case of Darfur is much more clearly a matter ofR2P and the UN Security Council has considered the matter multiple times, authorizing the UN Mission in Sudan ``to use all necessary means to protect UN personnel and civilians under threat of physical violence'', specifically citing R2P in that context.

If there is any indication of the need to make R2P operational, it is Darfur. Resolution after resolution, the UN members have failed to follow through on their commitments - whether to impose a no-fly zone, to act when the Government of Sudan failed to disarm the Janjaweed, to take over by last December from the African Union full operational control of the peacekeeping force, to establish unity of command and, last, to fully deploy the 26,000-strong UN force with the troops needed, whether or not the Government of Sudan approves.

This was not a failure of the doctrine of R2P but the failure of will of the members of the UN to enforce the authority of the Security Council.

What is disturbing is that the willingness to use the full range of other instruments and to maintain unceasing pressure to achieve an end to the crisis has been lacking. Making R2P fully operational remains an ongoing challenge. In the 21st century, surely we are at a stage where norms should protect human life and people rather than the absolutist definitions of state sovereignty coming out of the 17th century.

Source: Unavailable

4. The Duty to Rescue
The New Republic
Michael Ignatieff
12 September 2008

Michael Ignatieff is a Canadian member of parliament and a former member of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), which released its report on the Responsibility to Protect in 2001. Ignatieffs article discusses Gary Bass book entitled reedoms Battle: The Origins of Humanitarian Intervention, and an overview of the evolution of humanitarian intervention.
Gary J. Bass has written a wonderfully intelligent and sardonic history of the moral causes clbres of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: Byron and Greek independence in 1825, the European campaign to save the Maronite Christians of Syria and Lebanon in 1860, Gladstone and the Bulgarian atrocities in 1876, Henry Morgenthau and the Armenian genocide of 1915. Bass resurrects these forgotten causes to remind us that humanitarian intervention did not begin in the 1990s. For nearly two hundred years, the impulse to save strangers from massacre has rivaled raison detat as a driver of European statecraft. As we respond--or do not respond--to the Rwandas and Darfurs of the future, we can still learn from this forgotten history.
() One clear message for the humanitarians of today is that they cannot allow themselves the luxury of indifference to the strategic consequences of their own moralism. Before they call for action, they must, as best they can, examine--or game out, as we now say--how the dominoes are likely to fall.() Humanitarians may be as racist as realists. The same condescension that prompts realists to stay out of the quarrels of little peoples can prompt humanitarians to plunge in to save them. ()

In the grim present, humanitarian intervention feels like an idea whose time has come and gone. The reasons for this are worth exploring. For ten years after the end of the Cold War, stopping ethnic cleansing and massacre in other countries became the cause clbres of every liberal internationalist. () By early 2000, the idea that all states have a "responsibility to protect" civilians at risk of ethnic cleansing or massacre in other states appeared to carry all before it--it became something approaching a principle of international law.

() The U.N. report that advocated the new doctrine of the "responsibility to protect" was sent to the printers in late August 2001. It was the high-water mark of the humanitarian faith. When it appeared in late September 2001, as the ruins of the World Trade Center were still smoldering, it was already irrelevant to American and European policymakers. Their overriding concern had shifted from protecting other country's civilians to protecting their own. And homeland security, not humanitarian intervention, has remained the policy imperative ever since. ()

It is not that the need for intervention has disappeared. The case for intervention of some kind--to compel Mugabe to leave Zimbabwe, to compel Burma to allow relief workers to help cyclone victims, to protect Darfurians being murdered by the Janjaweed--remains as forceful as ever. The demand for humanitarian intervention is high, but the supply has dried up. The need to do something remains, but the moral conviction, together with the political will and the material resources to do it, has dwindled or disappeared.

From all this we might draw the wrong conclusion, namely that humanitarian intervention was a hectic but fleeting moral fashion of the 1990s--an opportunity for the West to display its insufferable moral superiority at low cost, and for liberal intellectuals to wear their consciences on their sleeves. Bass helps us to see our own moral history in a more serene and clear-eyed light. There was more to the interventions that saved the Bosnians, Kosovars, and East Timorese than moral vanity. The philosophical beliefs that drove those foreign campaigns had a history going back to Byron and the Greeks. Thanks to Bass's fine book, we can uncover the lineage of some enduring intuitions about the duties that people owe each other across borders. These moral intuitions may be in retreat right now, with great power politics in the ascendant; but it would be foolish to pronounce their demise. The impulse to save and protect others will survive this parenthesis of retreat. We are not done with evil, and so we are not done with humanitarian intervention. Its time will come again; or it had better come, if we are to continue to respect ourselves.


For a critique of Ignatieffs article, see George Jonas essay, published 13 September 2008, in The National Post at

IV. Reports Featuring R2P

1. The Challenge to Protect: The Ongoing Challenge in North Korea
Independent Commission
Vaclv Havel, Kjell Magne Bondevik, Elie Wiesel
19 September 2008

Vaclv Havel, Former President of the Czech Republic, Kjell Magne Bondevik, Former Prime Minister of Norway, and Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, commissioned a report in 2006 entitled ailure to Act: A Call to the UN Security Council to Act in North Korea. The deteriorating situation and lack of progress compelled the group to write a new study, called he Challenge to Protect: The Ongoing Challenge in North Korea. The selection below is excerpts from the Executive Summary of the report, and the emergence of the crisis as R2P. The North Korean Government denies food access to many of its people based solely on inequities in their political caste, and many do not have access to basic human rights.

Full Report:
Full Report of 2006 Failure to Act Commission:

2. Britains Global Responsibilities: The International Rule of Law
Autumn Liberal Democrats Conference
Liberal Democrats
13 September 2008

The following are R2P excerpts from the UK liberal democrats position paper entitled ecurity and liberty in a globalised world.

()Responsibility to Protect and the Role of International Institutions

7.1.2 Liberal Democrats strongly support the principle of the Responsibility to Protect, initially proposed by the Liberal government in Canada and now adopted by the UN. This principle takes the individual as sovereign and focuses on the security of individuals rather than states. It requires states to endeavour to prevent crises from occurring in the first place, but if this is not possible any action must focus on protecting the population, not on punishing an unpleasant regime, and in cases of intervention, there is a duty to rebuild. Put simply: prevention is better than cure; intervention should be for humanitarian reasons, and must involve wide international participation under UN authority, must have reasonable and achievable aims and a clear and realistic exit strategy.()

7.1.4 There are many reasons why fragile states become failed states, and the factors determining whether and when the UK and other states should intervene are complex. We are poor at identifying potential crises, whether deriving from climate change, resource depletion or lack of clean water or from more traditional sources of conflict. Liberal Democrats believe that the British approach to assessing the situation on the ground and responding to it should be reviewed in order that the UK and its allies can focus on prevention in line with the responsibility to protect. It is imperative to find a way to coordinate the responses of all relevant ministries - the FCO, DfID, the MOD and DEFRA - more effectively, so that the UKs response can be effective, for example, military support may be required to protect DfID and NGO workers in the tasks of providing enhanced infrastructure for clean work or rebuilding hospitals. ()

See Full Paper at:

2. Implementing the Responsibility to Protect
The Stanley Foundation Conference Report
9 September 2008

On September 16, 2005, the World Summit at the United Nations unanimously affirmed the esponsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. That action was a politically important step in establishing the significance of the doctrinal Responsibility to Protect (R2P). Putting R2P into practice presents a separate and even more difficult set of challenges. The Stanley Foundation Conference, held in Portugal on June 20-25th, addressed the conceptual challenges of strengthening the UN in the next decade. The following are excerpts from the Stanley Foundations Conference Report.

Full Report:

V. Related Reports
1. Press Release: Burma Human Rights Yearbook 2007
The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma
Human Rights Documentation Unit
9 September 2008

As the first anniversary of Burmas September 2007 Saffron Revolution approaches, the Human Rights as continued to deteriorate.() Twenty years since the brutal suppression of the 1988 uprising, the Burmese military junta continues to exert tight control over the countrys population, while executing a litany of human rights abuses against its citizens. ()

The Burma Human Rights Yearbook 2007 reveals that the human rights situation confronting the people of Burma has not improved since the very first Burma Human Rights Yearbook was published fourteen years ago. On the contrary, widespread human rights violations continued to be perpetrated in Burma with near impunity throughout 2007. Across the country, members of the civilian population have continued to be subjected to egregious abuses including, but not limited to forced labour, extortion, arbitrary arrest, summary execution, rape, forced relocation, the confiscation and/or destruction of land and property, religious persecution and ethnic discrimination.

Full report:

2. Somalia: A Country in Peril, a Policy Nightmare
ENOUGH Project
Ken Menkhaus
3 September 2008

This is the abstract for the first of two ENOUGH strategy papers on Somalia by Ken Menkhaus, a professor at Davidson College and a specialist on the Horn of Africa. A follow-up report will explore options and make recommendations for a new, more effective, international approach to Somalia.

The world has grown numb to Somalias seemingly endless crises18 years of state collapse, failed peace talks, violent lawlessness and warlordism, internal displacement and refugee flows, chronic underdevelopment, intermittent famine, piracy, regional proxy wars, and Islamic extremism. It would be easy to conclude that todays disaster is merely a continuation of a long pattern of intractable problems there, and move on to the next story in the newspaper. So Somalias in flames againhats new?

The answer is that much is new this time, and it would be a dangerous error of judgment to brush off Somalias current crisis as more of the same. It would be equally dangerous to call for the same tired formulas for U.N. peacekeeping, state-building, and counterterrorism operations that have achieved little since 1990. Seismic political, social, and security changes are occurring in the country, and none bode well for the people of Somalia or the international community.

Over the past 18 months, Somalia has descended into terrible levels of displacement and humanitarian need, armed conflict and assassinations, political meltdown, radicalization, and virulent anti-Americanism. Whereas in the past the countrys endemic political violencehether Islamist, clan-based, factional, or criminal in natureas local and regional in scope, it is now taking on global significance.
As Enoughs April 2008 report on Somalia (15 Years After Black Hawk Down: Somalias Chance?) argued, this is the exact opposite of what the United States and its allies sought to promote when they supported the December 2006 Ethiopian military intervention in Somalia to oust an increasingly bellicose Islamist movement in Mogadishu. Indeed, the situation in Somalia today exceeds the worst-case scenarios conjured up by regional analysts when they first contemplated the possible impact of an Ethiopian military occupation. How did it get to be this bad?

Source and Full Report:

Thanks to Emily Cody for compiling this listserv


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