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.




This book came about as a result of an already well-developed collaboration between the Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law headquartered in Brisbane, and the United Nations University in Tokyo. The two academic partners, jointly with the Australian Civil-Military Centre, developed the idea for a new book project aimed at unpacking and mapping the relationship between two norms of protection – responsibility to protect (R2P) and protection of civilians (POC) – and to identify gaps, overlaps and areas of complementarity. We submitted a grant application to the Australian Government’s Responsibility to Protect Fund, and were successful.


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