Gareth Evans on Responsibility to Protect (R2P)

Professor Gareth Evans gave a fascinating public lecture on R2P at the University of Queensland today*.

Professor Evans is often identified as the norm entrepreneur responsible for the R2P’s swift rise, and he is thus very well-placed to comment on the diplomacy and realpolitik surrounding this norm in the post-Libyan context.  He firmly believes in R2P’s continued relevance, and stressed the understandable historical and geopolitical reasons for the BRICs reluctance to wholeheartedly endorse the norm as understood by the West, especially the UK, US and France.

What I found particularly interesting was the insider’s view of diplomatic and scholarly initiatives going on within Brazil (at least until recently), China, and Russia, with an eye to developing a complementary doctrine of Responsibility While Protecting, or Responsible Protection, that stresses the importance of ongoing debate and review of interventions, which should only be carried out according to strict prudential criteria (last resort, legitimate intent, balance of consequences, proportionality).

I hadn’t been aware of these initiatives, which Professor Evans believes are very positive and demonstrate the acceptance of the R2P norm within these countries, balanced by a desire to achieve co-ownership: to have a meaningful say in the application and extension of these norms.  In light of some recent reading [span.] I’ve been doing about Brazil’s reluctance to stand up for democratic and human rights norms (specifically in relation to Cuba), I wonder if this is indicative of a broader shift within the BRICs to engage with rather than challenge the existing normative landscape, or if it really is limited to those norms seeking to minimise the most heinous abuses.

* I highly recommend keeping an eye out for the video which will be published here over the coming days. Meanwhile, text is here.

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