Making RtoP a Living Reality: Reflections on the 2012 General Assembly Dialogue on Timely and Decisive Response

in Global Responsibility to Protect
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This article reflects upon the UN General Assembly’s 2012 informal interactive dialogue on the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP), which was on the theme of ‘timely and decisive response’. It shows that although Member States recognize that ‘timely and decisive’ responses to genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity could sometimes prove controversial, none disputed the occasional necessity of robust enforcement measures when properly authorized by the Security Council and used as a last resort. Against this backdrop, the paper identifies and engages with three of the key challenges that emerged in the dialogue: the relationship between the the three pillars of RtoP, the problem of consistency in the application of the principle, and the challenge of making prevention a ‘living reality’. The paper identifies ways of navigating these challenges and proposes a pathway for the further consolidation of RtoP in international practice.

Making RtoP a Living Reality: Reflections on the 2012 General Assembly Dialogue on Timely and Decisive Response

in Global Responsibility to Protect

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2

S/2011/701 10 November 2011.

3

Cited by Edward C. LuckThe UN Security Council (London: Routledge2006) note 13 p. 136. This is a generally accepted interpretation of Article 42 and I know of no objections to this view. Also see Vaughan Lowe Adam Roberts Jennifer Welsh and Dominik Zaum ‘Introduction’ in The United Nations Security Council and War: The Evolution of Thought and Practice since 1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2008) p. 7.

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