The future of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP)

Gruppenbild_1Coinciding with International Human Rights Day on 10th December, FNF and the Human Rights Committee of Liberal International (LI) met in the European Parliament in Brussels to debate the future of the Responsibility to Protect Principle, 10 years after its adoption. Bringing together liberal parliamentarians, diplomats, civil society representatives and human rights practitioners the discussions focused on the growing challenges and misconceptions attached to the implementation of the principle.

IMG_9247In his opening remarks, LI HRC Chairman and LI Vice-President on the Bureau, Markus Löning, warned that the R2P formula needs to be improved. “We need to identify where liberals can act. There are great challenges ahead of us and we need to improve the system of R2P in the face of growing failures on the part of the UN Security Council to evoke the principle in situations where there are mass atrocities against innocent civilians”, he said.

This was very much aligned with conclusions of the first panel, which examined the idea of whether R2P has become increasingly irrelevant.

Angela Patnode with the International Coalition for RtoP argued that there is in fact institutional evidence that RtoP is thriving despite growing criticism while LI HRC member and ALDE Party Vice-President Ilhan Kyuchyuk MEP, warned that RtoP has a problem of selectivity which goes beyond Syria and Ukraine.

Khodr Habib, Member of Parliament (Future Movement, Lebanon) cautioned as to the need to agree on a sustainable long-term plan on resolving the crisis in Syria while former Minister of Defence for Ukraine, Anatolyi Grytsenko, reminded that Ukraine had reached a point of no return and while sanctions has helped strong leadership remains key.

The second panel looked more closely into the future of the principle and the various operational and conceptional hurdles. Explaining that conceptually RtoP is less contentious but the mobilisation of resources for prevention is difficult, the Ambassador of Georgia to the European Union, Her Excellency Natalie Sabanadze, said: “The logic of doing politics today is not conducive to prevention.”

Jonas Claes from the United States Institute of PeaceIMG_9209 underlined that apart from a political tool, RtoP is also a legal, tactical and moral tool. “One of the ways to strengthen RtoP is to reflect on the right expectations. RtoP does not equate military intervention as it is about preventive non coercive actions” he explained.

The discussions were enriched with input from the Chair of the Session, Celito Alegre, Executive Director of CALD (LI Cooperating Organisation), who highlighted the different dimensions of the principle explaining that ASEAN countries are a lot more traditional in their approach to sovereignty.

Delivering the concluding remarks to the conference, LI President of Honour and LI HRC patron Lord John Alderdice, said: “RtoP is about a responsibility to protect human beings regardless of which side of the border there are on. We have to establish a behavioural principle. Liberals should promote the idea of an early warning system together with NGOs, business leaders, philanthropists, and others. As such LI has a responsibility to promulgate RtoP. ”


Source: Liberal International