Civil Society Perspectives: A View From the Asia-Pacific Ten Years Since the World Summit: Developing Civil Society’s Strategy for the Responsibility to Protect in the Asia-Pacific Region
Event Summary February 28, 2015
Ten years have passed since the landmark Responsibility to Protect (R2P) norm was unanimously adopted by all heads of state and government in the 2005 World Summit Outcome document. By adopting the R2P norm—which affirms that states and the international community have a responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing—the world signaled that sovereignty could no longer be used as a shield for governments to commit heinous crimes against their own populations. In the Asia-Pacific region, there has been remarkable progress toward increasing awareness and understanding of R2P, particularly following the 2014 report of the High-Level Advisory Panel on the Responsibility to Protect in Southeast Asia.
Nevertheless, tremendous challenges in the Asia-Pacific have arisen with regards to building political support for the norm and taking action to advance its implementation, and such issues must not remain unaddressed or left to government officials and policymakers alone. Lack of awareness of the norm and the obligations it entails, as well as misunderstanding of R2P as a disguised excuse for humanitarian intervention or tool for Western imperialism, remain pervasive in the region. Additionally, there exists a stifling lack of political will among many regional actors to consistently take preventive action and to mobilize when populations are threatened, as witnessed in Sri Lanka and Myanmar.
These challenges need to be addressed, and action needs to be undertaken in a timely, collaborative, and concrete manner, for R2P remains the only agreed-upon commitment and articulated, tangible political framework for the prevention of and response to atrocities.
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