- Responsibility to Protect
Responsibility to Protect
The adoption of the Martens Clause in the 1899 and 1907 Hague Conventions reads:
“Until a more complete code of the laws of war has been issued, the High Contracting Parties deem it expedient to declare that, in cases not included in the Regulations adopted by them, the inhabitants and the belligerents remain under the protection and the rule of the principles of the law of nations, as they result from the usages established among civilized peoples, from the laws of humanity, and the dictates of the public conscience.”
Conceptions of Sovereignty
Article 2 (7) of the United Nations Charter (1945) establishes:
“Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII.”
International Organization Response to Humanitarian Emergencies
Note: See the entry on international humanitarian law.
- In 1992, UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said that: “Respect for its fundamental sovereignty and integrity are crucial to any common international progress. The time of absolute and exclusive sovereignty, however, has passed; its theory was never matched by reality. It is the task of leaders of States today to understand this and to find a balance between the needs of good internal governance and the requirements of an ever more interdependent world.”
- The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (1999) claimed that: “State sovereignty, in its most basic sense, is being redefined – not least by the forces of globalisation and international co-operation. States are now widely understood to be instruments at the service of their peoples, and not vice versa. At the same time individual sovereignty – by which I mean the fundamental freedom of each individual, enshrined in the charter of the UN and subsequent international treaties – has been enhanced by a renewed and spreading consciousness of individual rights. When we read the charter today, we are more than ever conscious that its aim is to protect individual human beings, not to protect those who abuse them.”
- It was a milestone the challenge that Secretary General Annan offered in his Millennium Report to the General Assembly (April 2000): “[T]o the critics I would pose this question: if humanitarian intervention is, indeed, an unacceptable assault on sovereignty, how should we respond to a Rwanda, to a Srebrenica – to gross and systematic violations of human rights that affect every precept of our common humanity?”
ICISS Report and Millennium Summit Outcome Document
Acting on concerns captured by Annan’s question (see above), the Canadian government established the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty to consider the relationship between the United Nations’ protection of state sovereignty and the need to protect individual human beings. The Commission report (2001) stated:
- “State sovereignty implies responsibility, and the primary responsibility for the protection of its people lies with the state itself”.
- “Where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect”.
- “Intra-state warfare is often viewed, in the prosperous West, simply as a set of discrete and unrelated crises occurring in distant and unimportant regions. In reality, what is happening is a convulsive process of state fragmentation and state formation that is transforming the international order itself. Moreover, the rich world is deeply implicated in the process. Civil conflicts are fuelled by arms and monetary transfers that originate in the developed world, and their destabilizing effects are felt in the developed world in everything from globally interconnected terrorism to refugee flows, the export of drugs, the spread of infectious disease and organized crime.”
- “These considerations reinforce the Commission’s view that human security is indeed indivisible. There is no longer such a thing as a humanitarian catastrophe occurring “in a faraway country of which we know little.”
In the September 2005 Outcome Document at the United Nations Millennium Summit (SOD), the following were added:
- “Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means. We accept that responsibility and will act in accordance with it. The international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability.”
- “The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for the General Assembly to continue consideration of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter and international law. We also intend to commit ourselves, as necessary and appropriate, to helping States build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and to assisting those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out.”
- “We fully support the mission of the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide.”
Cross References of International Claims, State Responsability in International Law
- Alien Tort Claims Act litigation, information on Foreign Relations in this legal Encyclopedia.
- McKesson v. Iran, information on Foreign Relations in this legal Encyclopedia and information on Privileges and Immunities in this legal Encyclopedia
- International Law Commission, information on International Organizations in this legal Encyclopedia.
- Expropriation exception to Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, information on Privileges and Immunities in this legal Encyclopedia.
- Litigation under terrorism exception to Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, information on Privileges and Immunities in this legal Encyclopedia.
- NAFTA dispute settlement, information on Trade, Commercial Relations, Investment, Transportation in this legal Encyclopedia.
- WTO dispute settlement, information on Trade, Commercial Relations, Investment, Transportation in this legal Encyclopedia.
- Request for arbitral panel under CAFTA-DR Agreement, information on Trade, Commercial Relations, Investment, Transportation in this legal Encyclopedia.
- Arbitration with Canada relating to compliance with Softwood Lumber Agreement, information on Trade, Commercial Relations, Investment, Transportation in this legal Encyclopedia.
Responsibility to Protect
Embracing mainstream international law, this section on responsibility to protect explores the context, history and effect of the area of the law covered here.
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