Norms of Protection

Responsibility to Protect, Protection of Civilians and their Interaction

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A series of humanitarian tragedies in the 1990s (Somalia, Rwanda, Srebrenica, Kosovo) demonstrated the failure of the international community to protect civilians in the context of complex emergencies. These brought to life two norms of protection – Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and Protection of Civilians (POC) – both deeply rooted in the empathy that human beings have for the suffering of innocent people. Both norms raise concerns of misinterpretation and misuse. They are developing – sometimes in parallel, sometimes diverging and sometimes converging – with varying degrees of institutionalization and acceptance. This book engages in a profound comparative analysis of the norms and aims to serve policy-makers at various levels; practitioners with protective roles; academics and researchers; civil society and R2P and POC advocates.



The responsibility to protect and the protection of civilians: A view from the United Nations

This chapter is part of the study of the relationship between the responsibility to protect (R2P) and the protection of civilians (POC). The authors undertook extensive theme-focused interviews at the relevant UN offices in New York and Geneva and the Australian mission in New York as part of the process of mapping the relationship between R2P and POC and their relevance to UN protection operations. The aim of this chapter is to present the opinions of UN officials as a way of understanding the practicalities and application of POC and R2P to the UN system, drawing links between the issues raised by respondents and the wider debate on POC and R2P. In this way, this chapter complements the project’s overview of the literature on R2P and POC presented in the preceding chapter of this collection.


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