Mass Violence and Atrocities | Discussion Takeaways

Implementing the Responsibility to Protect

January 2010


The Stanley Center convened about 35 governmental and nongovernmental officials near New York last week to examine practical steps toward the implementation of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). Participants included UN officials and diplomats from a number of countries. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke at the opening dinner of the conference.

A policy memo is now available which expands on these key observations from the discussion:

  • Consideration of R2P is at a different place today than it was in earlier discussions. While some doubts and questions remain, the focus now is on accepting the 2005 Summit Outcome as agreed and focusing on the actions needed to implement and mainstream it within the UN system.
  • While early warning about the relevant crimes is always vital, there is significant agreement that assessment and turning information into actionable intelligence are equally critical and an even greater challenge. A focal point is needed for this information flow and assessment, and the joint office proposed by the secretary-general seems a logical place.
  • Establishing and supporting the proposed joint office received considerable support among conference participants and this should be carried forward in the appropriate UN bodies. The joint office’s mandates should be integrated and any definitional deficiencies remedied.
  • The primary leadership for implementing R2P within the UN system necessarily falls on the shoulders of the secretary-general. His role is to lead and direct, using existing structures where possible.