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Courier 74 Spring 2012
“In 2011 history took a turn for the better. The Responsibility to Protect came of age; the principle was tested as never before. The results were uneven but, at the end of the day, tens of thousands of lives were saved.”
—UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s keynote at “R2P: The Next Decade

The January 2012 conference titled ”Responsibility to Protect: The Next Decade” may very well have marked a turning point in global understanding of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine. While there is still vigorous debate about “how” best to prevent and halt mass atrocities, a cross section of international participants in our event underscored widespread agreement that the task is an appropriate and necessary part of fostering a global community. Once, vocal groups of nations could claim that most domestic cases of mass violence were internal matters unsuited for discussion at the international level, including the UN Security Council. Today, that idea no longer holds sway.

In this edition of Courier, one of the architects of R2P, Gareth Evans, gives us a quick overview of how R2P has developed over the last ten years. He says, “The principle is firmly established and has delivered major practical results. But its completely effective implementation is going to be a work in progress for some time yet.”

Around the world today, from Syria to Libya and Côte d’Ivoire, the idea of R2P animates the debate about global responses. Foundation program officer Sean Harder reports on how policymakers and experts at the New York conference considered these present day applications—from Gareth Evans who expressed concern that R2P may be undergoing a bit of a “midlife crisis” to Knut Vollebaek who wondered what happens when the “international community…fails to take up this responsibility?”

Finally, in this issue of Courier, foundation program officer Rachel Gerber looks beyond the horizon at the challenges R2P will face in its second decade of existence. She reminds us that at the 2005 World Summit, leaders “reinforced R2P’s focus on peaceful, preventive means” rather than pigeonholing R2P as merely a rationale for military intervention. As Gerber points out, “Setting the sights of global policy to prevent rather than simply respond to mass atrocity threats raises deeper questions about the internal dynamics that drive atrocity violence.” Answering these questions and responding to those dark motives will be vital for R2P’s future. Read more.

R2P: The Next Decade was organized by the Stanley Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

About The Stanley Foundation

The Stanley Foundation seeks a secure peace with freedom and justice, built on world citizenship and effective global governance. It brings fresh voices, original ideas, and lasting solutions to debates on global and regional problems. The foundation is a nonpartisan, private operating foundation, located in Muscatine, Iowa, that focuses on peace and security issues and advocates principled multilateralism. The foundation frequently collaborates with other organizations. It does not make grants. Online at

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Marking 10 Years of R2P
Notable Change in the Debate
With Success, New Complications
The Future of Atrocity Prevention
The “Year of Prevention”