Gareth Evans speaks about R2P at CEU's School of Public Policy - full lecture

Gareth Evans speaks about R2P at CEU's School of Public Policy - full lecture

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The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) concept was initiated in a 2001 report of an international commission co-chaired by Gareth Evans and endorsed unanimously by the UN General Assembly - sitting at head of state and government level - at the 2005 World Summit. The adoption of R2P by the UN was an affirmation that sovereignty was not a license to kill. No state can abdicate the responsibility to protect its own people from atrocity crimes, let alone justify perpetrating such crimes itself. When a state manifestly fails in that protection, it is the responsibility of the wider international community to provide it by taking "collective, timely, and decisive" action through the Security Council.

In 2011, the UN Security Council invoked R2P, paving the way for a forceful international response to address the conflict in Libya. Today, as Syria's crisis goes from bad to worse, the same Council is paralyzed by a backlash against NATO's perceived overreach of its civilian-protection mandate in Libya. The gridlock in New York has regenerated some serious international scepticism about the R2P project. Is Syria a temporary setback for efforts to prevent atrocity crimes or are we staring at a return to the bad old days of Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo?