The Stanley Foundation
Seeking a secure peace with freedom and justice, built on global citizenship and effective global governance.
Responsibility to Prevent in Africa: Leveraging Institutional Capacity to Mitigate Atrocity Risk

Kwesi Aning and Frank Okyere
Policy Analysis Brief
January 2015

Prevention of atrocity crimes is a key element in advancing the responsibility to protect (R2P). The 2001 International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty report defined the “responsibility to prevent” as addressing “both the root causes and direct causes of internal conflict and other man-made crises putting populations at risk.”

However, in advancing R2P, prevention is the element with the least support in spite of the strong international rhetoric. This worrying trend indicates a diminishing international will and capacity to prevent or mitigate mass atrocities where such mechanisms have either been neglected or failed, such as in Libya, Cote d’Ivoire, Syria, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. Limited desire for prevention, particularly on building state capacity for atrocity prevention, contributes to this failure.

This raises critical questions: How do we ensure protection for populations in places where the state is either absent or virtually usurped by nonstate actors? Does the absence of the state automatically signal the lack of capacity or risk of failure? How do we address the question of responsibility as well as streamline international assistance in such isolated and virtually ungoverned spaces?

This brief addresses these pertinent questions as well as risk and risk-mitigation factors critical to atrocity-prevention efforts in Africa. It shifts the discourse on protection capacity beyond issues of state responsibility as well as international assistance in building state capacity for atrocity prevention, to a reassessment of assumptions about the nature of the African state. It argues for broader engagement with nonstate preventive mechanisms most prevalent across the continent.

Share: Email Facebook Twitter
Receive Materials Receive Materials
The Stanley Foundation publishes policy briefs, analytical articles, and reports on a number of international issues. To reduce our carbon footprint and cut waste, we almost exclusively, use electronic distribution for our publications. Sign up to receive our resources via e-mail.

Courier Courier
The Spring 2018 issue of Courier highlights the issues facing Cambodian fishermen as their lakes are affected by climate change. It includes a tribute to Dick and Mary Jo Stanley, a look at UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ attempts at UN reform, and a peek at our Iowa Student Global Leadership conference.

The issue also focuses on how artificial intelligence is being integrated into military systems around the world, how sustainable farming practices can impact carbon emissions, and the cyber vulnerabilities of the world’s most dangerous weapons. Spring 2018 PDF. (1,151K) Subscribe for FREE.

the latest the latest
Our bimonthly newsletter is filled with resources to keep you up to date with our work at the Stanley Foundation. Each edition includes news about recent publications and stories as well as features our people and partners.

You will also find many extras, from upcoming events to multimedia resources. 

Sign up for the latest to stay engaged on key global issues.

Stanley Foundation Annual Conferences Stanley Foundation Annual Conferences
The Stanley Foundation holds two annual conferences, UN Issues and the Strategy for Peace Conference. These bring together experts from the public and private sectors to meet in a distraction-free setting and candidly exchange ideas on pressing foreign policy challenges.

Divided into roundtable talks, the cutting-edge discussions are intended to inspire group consensus and shared recommendations to push forward the debate on the foundation’s key policy areas.

The Stanley Foundation: Part of COP23 The Stanley Foundation: Part of COP23
As a part of our efforts to limit global warming to 1.5° C, the foundation put forward policy ideas to achieve a global turning point in emissions by 2020, built upon efforts to catalyze global climate action by countries and sub- and non-state actors, and worked with journalists to strengthen coverage of the UN climate negotiations.

A Climate for Conflict: Stories from Somalia A Climate for Conflict: Stories from Somalia
The Ground Truth Project, New America, and the Stanley Foundation are hosting a Screening of “A Climate for Conflict” and discussion with the creators followed by a panel discussion on Climate Security and Societal Resilience on May 30, 2017.

Somalia today is at a crossroads between a deepening crisis and a path to stability. Photographer and filmmaker Nichole Sobecki and writer Laura Heaton spent 18 months documenting personal stories of Somalia, creating a film, photography, and reporting that vividly illustrate the human consequences and security risks of a changing climate. Read more.

Follow the conversation online with #AClimateforConflict.

Watch and Learn Watch and Learn
Stanley Foundation events, talks, video reports, and segments from our Now Showing event-in-a-box series can now be viewed on YouTube. To receive regular updates on our video posts, please subscribe today.