About R2P

The Responsibility to Protect (RtoP or R2P) agreement was unanimously endorsed by United Nations Member States in 2005 as they sought to protect people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. Paragraphs 138, 139, and 140 of the World Summit Outcome Document outlined the multifaceted nature of the RtoP

138. Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means. We accept that responsibility and will act in accordance with it. The international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability.

139. The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, 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 are manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for the General Assembly to continue consideration of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter and international law. We also intend to commit ourselves, as necessary and appropriate, to helping States build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and to assisting those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out.

140. We fully support the mission of the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide.

In recent years there has been a surge in RtoP debate and implementation at the international level as the United Nations responds to mass violence. Consider that in the 65 months prior to the UN authorised military intervention in Libya (March 2011) there had been just 4 United Nations RtoP related Resolutions; since then, there have been over 40. This increase comes as the United Nations responds to genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing in countries such as Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan, South Sudan, Yemen, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Syria, the Central African Republic, Iraq, Burundi and Myanmar – to name just a few.

For more information on R2P please consult our collated lists of Key UN and Key EU documents.