Responsibility to Protect (R2P)

The Responsibility to Protect (or R2P) is an international legal doctrine adopted in 2005 by the United Nations in the wake of genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia. The policy obligates the international community to use diplomatic and humanitarian means to help governments to protect their citizens, and to use coercive tactics—diplomatic, legal, economic, and as a last resort, military—in order to stop mass atrocities. In spring 2011, R2P became the legal basis invoked by NATO forces under the mandate of the U.N. Security Council for intervening in Libya to prevent crimes against humanity and war crimes.

  • The UN Security Council approves Resolution 1973 authorizing a No-Fly Zone in Libya, in application of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras.
    The UN Security Council approves Resolution 1973 authorizing a No-Fly Zone in Libya, in application of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras.

In November 2011, HRF announced the publication of The Responsibility to Protect: The Promise of Stopping Mass Atrocities in Our Time, published by the Oxford University Press and co-sponsored by HRF-CLD. Prefaced by HRF then-chairman Václav Havel and Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Responsibility to Protect is a collection of articles by scholars, diplomats, and human rights activists. Edited by international legal experts Irwin Cotler and Jared Genser, the book provides a comprehensive overview of how R2P developed and how it should be applied to current and future humanitarian crises.