Who Should Act?

Collective responsibility and the Responsibility to Protect

Authored by: Jennifer M. Welsh

THE ROUTLEDGE HANDBOOK OF THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT

Print publication date:  June  2012
Online publication date:  June  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415600750
eBook ISBN: 9780203117637
Adobe ISBN: 9781136304873

10.4324/9780203117637.ch8

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Abstract

The 2005 Summit marking the sixtieth anniversary of the United Nations saw unanimous endorsement of the principle of ‘the Responsibility to Protect’ (also known as R2P). Article 138 of the Summit Outcome document acknowledges the responsibility of individual sovereign states to protect their own populations from four specific crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing. The subsequent paragraph, Article 139, endows the international community with the remedial responsibility to take collective action when national authorities ‘are manifestly failing to protect their populations’ from such crimes. 1 Proponents of R2P (who include the current UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and his predecessor, Kofi Annan) insist that the principle of R2P involves not only a responsibility to respond to gross violations of human rights, but also to prevent such atrocities and to help societies rebuild from conflict.

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