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What if the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) was Everybody’s Business?

Joint IFPO/CBRL Insight Series, 'Perspectives on the Modern and Contemporary Arab World' presents a public lecture by Coralie Pison Hindawi entitled,

"What if the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) was Everybody’s Business?"

A Middle East inspired proposal to stop looking at the UN Security Council for rescue in cases of mass atrocities.

The concept of Responsibility to Protect, endorsed unanimously a decade ago by all UN member states during the 2005 World Summit, establishes that there exists in international politics a responsibility to protect populations under threat of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing. Should a state prove unable or unwilling to protect a population from such mass atrocities, the concept of R2P states that the international community, through the United Nations, has the responsibility to protect this population. The Security Council is widely considered to be one of the primary bearers of such a responsibility.

While the subject of a lively debate in Western academia, the R2P concept is often perceived very skeptically in the Middle East – if acknowledged at all. The obvious selectivity of the Security Council’s indignation’s is, of course, lost on no one.

In this lecture, I suggest to stop focusing on the Security Council and the usual suspects to call for protection, and argue instead that R2P should be considered to be everybody’s business. From Rachel Corrie to the Freedom Flotillas, there are actually countless examples of courageous individuals upon which to build a new, more relevant, interpretation of the responsibility to protect.



Coralie Pison Hindawi is assistant professor of Political Studies at the American University of Beirut. She is currently a visiting research fellow at the Arab Center for Security Studies (University of Jordan). With a background in law and security studies, she has worked on the use of coercion in international politics and the politics of the UN Security Council’s resort to its – coercive – Chapter VII powers. Her current research activities, beyond her proposed reinterpretation of the R2P concept, include a critical analysis of the so-called “lessons learned” in Iraq in terms of security policies and doctrines.

She is the author of the book Vingt ans dans l’ombre du Chapitre VII. Eclairage sur deux décennies de coercition à l’encontre de l’Iraq published by L’Harmattan in 2013. Her latest publications include contributions to the forthcoming The United Nations in the Arab World, edited by Makdisi and Prashad (California University Press), as well as the forthcoming Oxford Handbook on the Responsibility to Protect, edited by Bellamy and Dunne.