Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect

The idea of a ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P or RtoP) has been the international community’s primary response to the problem of humanitarian intervention to prevent gross violations of human rights. We will contribute to strengthening this norm by developing our understanding of the prevention mechanisms within R2P.

ELAC's research in this area is led by Professor Jennifer Welsh and previously Dr Serena Sharma, who received funding from the Australian Civil- Military Centre for the project ‘Prevention toolbox: Systematising Policy Tools for the Prevention of Mass Atrocities’

The project seeks to advance the implementation of the principle of R2P by elaborating on how one of its key elements – prevention – can be operationalised in international society. It will build upon the findings of the recent ELAC research project ‘The Responsibility to Prevent: Developing Targeted and Systemic Strategies’ (funded by the Australian Government’s Responsibility to Protect fund, 2010-11).

The project has established an international network of researchers and practitioners, many of whom have been participating with ELAC in a policy engagement process with influential policy makers, academics and NGOs in the US, UK, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. ELAC is delighted that Jennifer Welsh’s research in this area has been recognised internationally, culminating in her recent appointment by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the position of his Special Advisor for RtoP.

An edited volume of research papers is planned for 2013 and ELAC have also produced a short policy briefing summarising this research which can be downloaded here.

A shorter version of this briefing has also been produced for the Asia-Pacific Centre for R2P series 'R2P ideas in brief' (APC R2P Brief, Vol. 2 No. 2 (2012)), see their webpage here.

ELAC will continue work on this important theme throughout 2012-13, working with an international global network established in the course of this reseach. Members of the network and other partner organisations include: