The introduction sketches the recent development of the 'responsibility to protect' norm and emphasises its African roots, both in terms of its conceptualisation and implementation and with particular respect to two tragedies—the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and the crisis in Darfur since 2003—that have lent urgency to the norm's formulation and widespread international adoption. The number and extent of R2P cases in Africa are outlined and the roles of the African Union and Africa's regional organisations in implementing the norm are briefly considered. The introduction acknowledges the importance of examining R2P through African perspectives. Referencing the justifications and primary principles for action upon which the norm is founded, the authors also assess the relative strengths of competing notions of sovereignty in Africa. The essay further considers how R2P has come to be seen as a mechanism that can bolster the capacity of weak states to fulfil their sovereign responsibilities to their own citizens, and how new international obligations imposed upon states, and particularly those adopted in Africa, have made significant inroads into the old concept of sovereignty as territorial integrity and freedom from external interventions.