Mass Violence and Atrocities | Analysis and New Insights

The Responsibility to Protect at Ten: The Challenges Ahead

Dr. Edward C. Luck | May 2015


It has been ten years since the 2005 World Summit, one of the largest-ever gatherings of heads of state and government, endorsed the principle of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). How far has R2P advanced in conceptual, political, institutional, and operational terms over the past decade? To what extent have the highest hopes of its enthusiasts and the worst fears of its detractors been realized? Is it gaining acceptance, and, more importantly, is it making a difference in terms of preventing mass atrocity crimes and protecting populations? How close is the principle to reaching maturity, and what are the toughest challenges ahead?

In this policy analysis brief, Dr. Edward Luck, former special adviser of the United Nations Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect, reflects on ten years of R2P’s development and implementation and offers some initial and partial responses to these wide-ranging inquiries.