The Responsibility to Protect

The Responsibility to Protect

The UN convention on genocide has been on paper for sixty years, but never put into practice. In 2005, the UN adopted a new idea, the responsibility to protect (R2P). America Abroad traces the evolution and history of R2P and visits the Democratic Republic of the Congo where years of internal conflict and proxy wars brings questions about the limits of R2P and the international community's willingness and ability to protect civilians. 

"The starting point for the responsibility to protect is the simple but profound idea that states have a responsibility to protect their own civilians. This is not rocket science."

– Don Hubert, Professor of International Affairs at the University of Ottawa

It’s not rocket science to figure out that if a state is committing genocide then the international community should step in to stop the killing. Unfortunately, the world did more thinking than acting in the face of mass atrocities in places like Rwanda and Bosnia. In 2005 the UN finally agreed that if nations can’t protect their citizens from crimes against humanity, the international community must act to save lives. Like many things in the UN, the new idea looks good on paper, and just might help prevent future genocides, but as always, the challenge is to turn it into practice.

Executive Producer: Aaron Lobel / AAM Producers: Monica Bushman, Sean D. Carberry, Matt Ozug, Monica Villavicencio and Chris Williams / Interns: Ann Thomas and Nadia Shairzay / Photo credit: Sean Carberry.

The Application of R2P in Kenya

Deborah Amos investigates the application of R2P in Kenya following the 2008 post-election violence.
Guests include: Maina Kiai, the former head of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights; Eston Mokono, a Party of National Unity (PNU) supporter; Meredith Preston-McGhie, Acting Director ­ Africa, HD Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue; George Wachira, Director of the Nairobi Peace Initiative.

UN's peacekeeping efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Sean Carberry explores the UN's peacekeeping efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo and investigates what effect an application of R2P would have on the ongoing crisis there.
Guests include: Charles Gurney, the US State Department¹s political officer in Eastern Congo; Kevin Kennedy, the director of the pubic information division of the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC); Ed Luck, the Special Representative to the UN Secretary General for Responsibility to Protect; David Ntengwe, an external relations officer for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in the DRC; Captain Tarun, an officer in India's 211 Battalion serving in the DRC.

The Evolution of R2P

Ray Suarez traces the evolution of R2P from the humanitarian failures of the 1990s to a consensus at the UN.
Guest: Don Hubert, Professor of International Affairs at the University of Ottawa.

What's the effectiveness of R2P and its prospects for the future?

Deborah Amos hosts a discussion on the effectiveness of R2P and its prospects for the future.
Guests include: Gareth Evans, President of the International Crisis Group and Alan Kuperman, Professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.