The European Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (ECR2P) is dedicated to advancing the responsibility to protect principle through research, education, and policy dialogue.
At the 2005 United Nations World Summit, world leaders endorsed the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) as a framework for preventing and responding to genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The decade that followed was characterized by efforts to mainstream the principle in the practices of international society at the United Nations, its member states and regional organizations.
In that period, academics have debated the extent to which R2P has influenced international relations, examined the ways states and civil society can implement the principle, and questioned whether R2P, as it was conceived in 2005, can properly inspire action that can effectively protect threatened populations.
Our members have been at the forefront of these theoretical and policy-led debates. Now, constituted as ECR2P, we aim to develop that contribution so that those committed to R2P can better serve its purpose, which is to prevent humanity’s worst crimes and protect the world’s most vulnerable populations.
ECR2P’s founding conference took place on the University of Leeds campus in October 2016. Prof. Alex Bellamy of the University of Queensland formerly launched the Centre the following December. While ECR2P aims is to contribute to the global effort to prevent mass atrocity crimes and to protect vulnerable populations, its focus is on the policies and practices of European states and the European Union.
It is always a timely moment to be studying this issue, but in some respects ECR2P is being launched at a particularly significant moment in European history. The rise of populist movements across the continent reminds us of the fragility of cosmopolitan politics, the increase in terrorist acts and hate crimes reminds us that Europe is not immune to political extremism, and Europe’s response to atrocity crimes and refugee flows on and across its borders calls into question the depth of its commitment to R2P.
Our aim is to add research capacity to support and critique those that are discussing this most urgent and demanding global challenge. The Centre will work with and support our partner institutions so that they can continue to have impact beyond academia, but we are also acutely aware of the contribution we can make through education and training at all levels.
We have worked with, and will continue to engage, Schools through our educational outreach programme. We offer specialist courses on R2P at undergraduate and postgraduate level as well as PhD supervision. Our PhD students in particular are integrated into ECR2P research programmes and they play a key role in the running and direction of the Centre, as does the ECR2P student society, ECR2Psoc. Together these students, guided by academics at the European and Asia-Pacific Centres, edit and produce the R2P Student Journal.