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16 October 2008
Responsibility to Protect-Engaging Civil Society
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In this issue:

I. United Nations General Assembly Debates
II. U.S. Presidential Candidates and R2P
III. R2P in the News
IV. Featured Reports

V. Related Events

I. United Nations General Assembly Debates

The attached document is a compilation of speeches made by Heads of State and Foreign Ministers at the opening of the 63rd General Assembly Session. Excerpted statements include speeches from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and Heads of State or Foreign Ministers of 18 Member States.

Excerpted Statements from the Open Debates at the Opening of the 63rd General Assembly Session
23-27 September and 29 September 2008:

II. U.S. Presidential Candidates and R2P

The following article is excerpted from remarks to the Constituency for Africa Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series forum on .S.-Africa Policy Agenda and the Next Administration at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on 24 September, 2008.

1. McCains Vision for Freedom, Peace and Prosperity
J. Peter Pham
29 September 2008

J. Peter Pham, a foreign policy and national security advisor to the campaign to elect Senator John McCain as President of the United States, outlines McCains approach to Africa.

() Even as we celebrate the fact that freedom is gaining ground in Africa with democratic progress occurring in Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Botswana, Angola, and other places, we deplore the fact that it has been brutally repressed in other countries. The violent disregard of the Robert Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe for the will of the people, for example, underscores its lack of legitimacy. ()

I believe the international community must act to impose sanctions against Mugabe and his cronies and thereby hasten the end of that regime. We should consider expelling Mugabes diplomats from Washington and explore options with our friends in Africa and beyond, including suspending Zimbabwes participation in regional organizations as long a Mugabe clings to power. The results of the March 29 election must form the basis of a post-Mugabe resolution in Zimbabwe. ()

() As not only a challenge to our moral sensibilities, but also a potential threat to our strategic interests through its destabilization of a vast swathe across the African continent, the ongoing crisis in Darfur calls out for American leadership. Senator McCain has been very clear on this issue, writing in a Foreign Affairs essay last year:

ith respect to the Darfur region of Sudan, I fear that the United States is once again repeating the mistakes it made in Bosnia and Rwanda. In Bosnia, we acted late but eventually saved countless lives. In Rwanda, we stood by and watched the slaughter and later pledged that we would not do so again. The genocide in Darfur demands U.S. leadership. My administration will consider the use of all elements of American power to stop the outrageous acts of human destruction that have unfolded there. ()

Senator McCain has repeatedly emphasized that the responsibility to protect civilians is one that arises out of our common humanity and no government complicit in the underlying atrocities should be allowed to set the terms whereby the international community acts to defend the most vulnerable, especially when those conditions are poorly-disguised obstructions to delay the alleviation of the plight of those displaced by the violence. This is nothing short of genocide in slow motion.


More info on candidates positions: to see Barack Obamas position regarding the conflict in Darfur, Somalia, and Zimbabwe, see

III. R2P in the News

1. The Responsibility to Protect: Holding the Line
Gareth Evans
6 October 2008

A new principle underlying the defence of peoples from atrocity won acceptance from the international community in the mid-2000s. It needs to be both reaffirmed and clarified. ()
The continuing case of Darfur () is an agonising example of a clear-cut R2P case (with the government of Sudan unable or unwilling to halt atrocity crimes) - but one where the international response has so far been very ineffective. The problem has not been the unwillingness to send in an invasion force (which would almost certainly make the situation much worse in both Darfur and south Sudan), but to deploy an effective voluntary protective force, and to apply overwhelming pressure on Khartoum. Darfur does not show, as some claim, that R2P is dead or irrelevant - only that there are some real-world cases where applying it is extremely difficult. ()
All these issues are going to be debated again soon in the UN general assembly. If the world is not to slip back into the terrible old habits of cynicism and indifference toward mass- atrocity crimes, it is crucial that like-minded governments and key civil-society organisations campaign hard to hold and consolidate the gains that have been won. The embrace of the responsibility-to-protect norm has, for the first time in human history, made it thinkable that we will never again have to say "never again". It would be a tragedy if that huge step forward for human rights were now to be eroded.

2. Genuine Concern or Ruse to Interferehoughts from London
The Sunday Times
Neville de Silva
28 September 2008

Mention R2P, the international shorthand for Responsibility to Protect and people blow hot and cold. In Sri Lanka it would be mainly hot. Particularly so after former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans Neelan Tiruchelvam Memorial Lecture last year when he introduced R2P to a Sri Lankan audience as head of the International Crisis Group that is in the forefront of the advocacy of this concept.()

Many are suspicious that R2P is a route to military intervention by another name by the powerful in the affairs of the small and the weak. Again the answer is no. Military intervention is the absolute last resort they say. Before military intervention is even considered there is a repertoire of other actions that are possible and should be employed. These include capacity building with the state concerned, political and diplomatic pressure and even economic sanctions to make a state listen and respond. Proponents of R2P would argue that military intervention cannot be undertaken without such action being endorsed by the UN Security Council. But in the global south it is being asked what would happen if the Security Council does not approve of it. Would a coalition of like-minded states then decide to take matters into its own hands as NATO did in Bosnia in the ruptured Yugoslavia? Or would there be a right to humanitarian intervention invoked as India did in Sri Lanka in 1987. ()

It is not enough to say that the emphasis has changed, for instance from Bernard Kouchners right to intervene to the responsibility to protect, the consideration being the people in danger. Any kind of intervention has to be rule-based and there must be a threshold of criteria. Violations of human rights cannot and must not be a reason for military intervention unless such violations are of catastrophic proportions and are likely to get worse. The argument cannot be purely in moral terms. There has to be a realistic assessment of the costs of that intervention, whether such military action would improve the situation of those affected or make it worse. If it is the latter then the rationale for intervention does not exist.

In any event any military intervention must have the authority of the Security Council behind it. If the SC is found lacking, then reform or refine the SC, not leave the matter in the hands of a powerful few which would be seen-and rightly so- as the return of imperialism, refined but imperialism all the same.


3. Forgetting Darfur
The Gazette
Irwin Cotler
30 September 2008

Irwin Cotler is a former Canadian Attorney General and Minister of Justice. He is currently a liberal MP, and the liberal critic for Human Rights. He is the founder of the Save Darfur Parliamentary Coalition.
() In the leaders' debate for the last federal election, none of the leaders of any of the four major parties even mentioned the word "Darfur." Nor did any member of the media put a question about Darfur to any of the leaders.
Most Canadians would join me in lamenting the tragedy unfolding, yet the government's throne speech made no mention of this on-going atrocity. This is especially disturbing given Canada's role as the principal architect of the "responsibility to protect" doctrine, which mandates international collective action to protect the Darfurian population from genocide.()
In this federal election campaign, important questions need to be put in the leaders' debate and beyond. How do we respond to the Sudanese government beginning its sixth year of genocidal warfare by launching ferocious ground and air assaults on its African civilian populations? How do we protect the Darfurian people as the Sudanese government attempts to destroy the relief effort set up to offer food and shelter to those in need? How do we reassure the aid workers whose own lives are threatened by a government-orchestrated campaign of terror?
The international community also needs a leader - and Canada can be that leader - to champion the role of international criminal law in bringing the genocidaires to account. While this summer saw the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court apply for an arrest warrant charging President Omar Al-Bashir with genocide, it also saw Khartoum reject and mock the legitimacy of this process itself. ()

IV. Featured Reports

1. The Responsibility to Prevent
Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers)
8 October 2008
Bridget Moix and Trevor Keck

Executive summary:
The next Congress and administration will have a historic opportunity to rebuild U.S. foreign policy structures to better meet the challenges of the 21st century. ()

In 2007 Congress requested reports from the Departments of State and Defense assessing the ability of the United States to train and guide an international intervention force in keeping with the responsibility to protect. While much attention is focused on the possibility of military intervention to stop atrocities once they are underway, the original concept of the responsibility to protect included three core elements: prevention, reaction, and rebuilding. Of these three, the original R2P commission stated in its report, revention is the single most important dimension of the responsibility to protect.

Rather than focusing on late intervention through military force, Congress should work to strengthen civilian tools and structures that can prevent conflicts from becoming violent and address the conditions that may lead to genocide. Such an approach would save both lives and money. According to the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, the international community could have saved $130 billion during the 1990s and averted direct military interventions by employing preventive approaches to conflicts in Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, Rwanda, the Persian Gulf, Cambodia, and El Salvador.

This report, The Responsibility to Prevent, offers Congress an independent assessment of U.S. capacities to peacefully manage conflicts before they escalate into genocide or mass atrocities. The core recommendations, if implemented effectively, would not only save billions of dollars and thousands of lives, but also avoid the many pitfalls of 11th-hour military intervention. ()

See the full report at

2. Report of the Secretary General on the Organization
United Nations
New York, 2008

Secretary General Ban Ki-moons annual report for the 63rd General Assembly session reviews the United Nations work in development, humanitarian affairs, human rights issues, and the increasing amount of responsibility of the United Nations to provide international and global governance. Ban Ki-moon focuses on the leadership and commitment by the UN to eradicate global crises, from poverty and sustainability to climate change. A core topic in his report is that of human rights, genocide prevention, the responsibility to protect and good governance and democracy. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon devotes a section to R2P, and states the importance of enhancing accountability, understanding, and application by UN member states.

()The concept of the responsibility to protect was embraced by the 2005 World Summit and has been endorsed by both the General Assembly and the Security Council. It is sustained by the positive and affirmative vision of sovereignty as responsibility and rests on three pillars: the affirmation of Member States that they have a primary and continuing legal obligation to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, and from their incitement; the acceptance by Member States of their responsibility to respond in a timely and decisive manner, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, to help protect populations from the four types of crimes described above; and the commitment of the United Nations system to assist States in meeting these obligations. This past year, I instructed the Organization to begin to take the initial steps to ensure that the system has the flexibility and capacity to help Member States meet their commitments. I look forward to seeing this capacity institutionalized towards the end of the year. ()

Full Report:

3. The International Communitys Responsibility to Protect
Forced Migration Review
Kavita Shukla
24 September 2008

Kavita Shukla is an Advocate at Refugees International and a researcher on internally displaced persons and Burmese Refugees. Systematic and prolonged suffering of the Burmese people by the military junta has led to a forced migration crisis, with an influx of refugees to neighboring countries and internally displaced persons within Burma. The Burmese government has denied outside aid, even when Burma was hit by Cyclone Nargis. Little has been done to alleviate the suffering of the Burmese people despite the immediacy of the situation.


4. A Global Force for Human Rights? An Audit of European Power at the UN
Richard Gowan and Franziska Brantner
European Council on Foreign Relations
17 September 2008

The European Unions strength in promoting human rights at the United Nations has decreased considerably in the past decade, in part due to an increasing sentiment towards law and order based governance. The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) analyzes over ten years of UN voting statistics, and realizes that the key areas in need of reform are the UN Security Council, the General Council, and the Human Rights Council. EU states have consistently voted in favor of human rights goals, in spite of the declining support worldwide of member states, including the US, who once had much more influence. The authors note that many states have started to mirror Russian and Chinese votes, which have increasingly vetoed issues outside of state sovereignty. This shows the integral need to implement the Responsibility to Protect in a more effective way, such that member states know it when they see it, and vote for action. The authors suggest using R2P to invoke action, as leverage for EU states that found themselves defeated on resolutions for Burma and Zimbabwe, and previous setbacks such as Kosovo and Darfur.


5. Human Security and R2P: A Solution to Civilian Insecurity in Darfur
Human Security Journal
Ben Simon Okolo
31 August 2008

The following report, published in the Human Security Journal, makes a case for international intervention in Darfur using the framework of the Responsibility to Protect. Based on assessing civilian insecurity in Darfur and its relationship to the perpetuation of violence by state and non-state actors, Ben Simon Okolo concludes that intervention, including forceful intervention, is necessary to give R2P a reath of fresh air. Likewise, he interprets the lack of action as being a lack of political will, despite the situation being clearly defined by high level panels within the UN.


V. Related Events

1. The Responsibility to Protect : Darfur and Beyond
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 from 6-8 PM
Location: the Anne Frank Center USA (New York)

To learn what you can do to end genocide, attend the event at the Anne Frank Center on October 15th for an evening with Mark Hanis, Executive Director of the Genocide Intervention Network (GI-NET). GI-NETs mission is to empower individuals and communities with the tools to prevent and stop genocide. Ordinary Americans can build political will in their communities, creating a world in which the global community is willing and able to protect civilians from genocide and mass atrocities in Darfur and around the world.

More information:

Many thanks to Emily Cody for compiling this listserv

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