The emergence of the Responsibility to Protect (r2p) doctrine is part of a universal longing to prevent atrocities and to protect those affected by them. While its origins are quite distinct from international humanitarian principles, its links with humanitarian issues are clear. In fact, r2p emerged in response to humanitarian tragedies. This article traces the intersection of r2p and protection frameworks for refugees and internally displaced persons (idps), recognizing the important differences between them. r2p focuses on prevention, response and rebuilding – the first two tasks of which are inherently political. Conflicts cannot be prevented or resolved without engaging in political action of one kind or another. Responding to atrocities requires taking sides. Normative frameworks on refugees and idps, on the other hand, are based on the principle that people are to be assisted and protected on the basis of need alone and that humanitarian action is non-political in nature.
Susan Harris Rimmer, ‘Refugees, internally displaced persons and the “responsibility to protect”’, New Issues in Refugee Research, Research Paper No. 185. Geneva: unhcr Policy Development and Evaluation Service. (March) 2010.