Responsibility to Protect: Ten Years On

  • DATE / TIME:
    2015•06•08    18:00 - 19:30

    On 8 June 2015 UNU will host Responsibility to Protect: Ten Years On, a special panel conversation organized as part of a series of events celebrating the 40th anniversary of UNU. This event will start at 6:00 PM at UNU Headquarters in Tokyo.

    A decade ago, the 2005 World Summit unanimously adopted the concept of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), committing the international community to take collective action to protect populations from atrocity crimes where national authorities have proven unable or unwilling to do so themselves. Hailed at the time as a major normative shift, R2P’s record over the past ten years has been mixed and the World Summit’s emphasis on “case-by-case” consideration of each situation foreshadowed the selective nature of R2P’s application.

    The concept underpinned a more robust posture of UN peacekeepers to protect civilians in places such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo or South Sudan and was invoked to enforce election results in Cote d’Ivoire and authorize NATO intervention in Libya. On the other hand, the UN has been sharply criticized for its slow responses to mass killings in Darfur, inaction in the face of large-scale civilian deaths in Sri Lanka, and failure to prevent an escalating civil war in Syria from spiraling out of control. Meanwhile, promoters of R2P seem on the defense in light of controversies around the Libya intervention, a growing East-West divide in the Security Council, the perception of US retrenchment, and a sovereignty-conscious Global South, where suspicion of R2P as a smokescreen for Western interventionism remains strong.

    Panel Session

    Against this background, UNU will host a panel of leading authorities on the Responsibility to Protect who will join UNU Rector David M. Malone for a conversation examining the concept’s achievements, vulnerabilities, and future prospects. The panel will feature former UNU Senior Vice-Rector Ramesh Thakur, who has been a central actor in the emergence of R2P as a member of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, which first developed the concept in its influential “Responsibility to Protect” report in 2001.

    Other panelists will include Dr. Cristina Stefan, Lecturer in International Relations, University of Leeds, United Kingdom, and Dr. Radha Kumar, Director General of the Delhi Policy Group, India.

    Please note that this event will be in English with simultaneous Japanese interpretation.


    The event will end at 19:30 and be followed by a one-hour reception and buffet from 19:30–20:30. The UNU Conversation Series aims to foster audience participation: you are encouraged to engage with the speakers during the conversation and at the reception, where all audience members are invited to enjoy the food and drinks that will be served while exchanging ideas and making new contacts.


    Advance registration (by 7 June) is required. Please click on the REGISTER button above to access the online registration page.


    U Thant International Conference Hall
    United Nations University
    53-70, Jingumae 5-chome