Mass Violence and Atrocities | Analysis and New Insights

The First Response: Peaceful Means in the Third Pillar of the Responsibility to Protect

Alex J. Bellamy | January 2016


Among the three Pillars of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), agreed to by the world’s nations at the 2005 World Summit, Pillar 3A encompasses the diplomatic, humanitarian, and other peaceful means available to the international community to protect populations from atrocity crimes. The third pillar carries enormous potential for making prevention a reality.

Alex Bellamy is director of the Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and professor of peace and conflict studies at the University of Queensland. His policy analysis offers an in-depth description of this aspect of the third pillar, and also analyzes the limitations and conditions for success associated with diplomatic, humanitarian, and other peaceful actions. The analysis clearly describes how intervention encompasses much more than the use of force, which should, in fact, be used only as a last resort.

Despite this, the use of force in the third pillar is the primary point of contention with R2P for some UN member states, which has left the peaceful aspects of the pillar overlooked and rather obscure. The topic was raised consistently in the course of consultations with policymakers and experts in the ten-year review of R2P implementation as an area requiring deeper research/thinking. Therefore, this policy analysis brief is a valuable tool for international actors who are turning their focus toward strengthening implementation of R2P now and in the future. In presenting the variety of nonmilitary means of response, it is helpful for fully understanding the range of protection options available to respond to mass atrocity crimes.