School of Politics and International Studies

Responsibility to Protect Student Journal

Volume 1, Issue No. 1

Dear Reader,

We are very excited to share with you the inaugural issue of the Responsibility to Protect Student Journal. As students of International Relations, we have closely followed the evolution of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) norm for many years. The very first R2P Student Coalition was established in 2010 at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Only a few years later, students from East Africa set up the East African Student Coalition on the R2P, and just last year, the University of Leeds saw the establishment of an R2P Student Coalition. We believe the fact that students from three different continents have actively sought to engage with the R2P bodes well for the norm’s future. As tomorrow’s leaders in national governments, in non-governmental organisations or at the United Nations (UN), it is vital that the current student generation continues to grapple with difficult questions around the R2P and related subjects such as human rights, international criminal justice and peacekeeping.

Having grown up during the 1990s and early 2000s, and hearing about the failures to protect people in Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur – to name just a few –, most of us find the ‘disarmingly simple idea’ of the R2P (Alex Bellamy, in this issue) uncontroversial. Rather than engage only with conceptual debates, we are primarily concerned with the practical considerations of how the R2P can be implemented. Some of the ways are considered in the current issue: Tommaso Trillò calls for the inclusion of gender into the R2P and refugee frameworks. Dominique Fraser analyses how legitimacy impacted on the UN Security Council’s decision to take over from a failing African Union peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic. Ben Taylor explores the legal ways President Omar al-Bashir can be brought to justice outside of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In our blog section, Katelyn Swinsburg tries to answer one of the biggest questions the mass atrocity community faces: what are the causes of genocide?

We hope that students, academics and practitioners find this journal not only interesting and engaging, but also useful for their own research and work. Above all, we hope to receive many more excellent essays from undergraduate and postgraduate students for publication to advance meaningful debates around these important issues.

Georgiana Epure and Dominique Fraser


  • Fulfilling the Promise of R2P: Our Shared Responsibility  

    Prof. Alex J. Bellamy, Director, Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

    We humans have often demonstrated an immense capacity to tolerate colossal inhumanity. As a result, no region of the world has escaped the scourge of genocide and mass atrocities in the past century or so. Time and again there have been impassioned appeals to put an end to these crimes, which shock the very conscience of mankind. Yet until very recently the world’s default response to mass killing, rape, torture and forced deportation was to stand aside and do little. From Phnom Penh to Kigali, the outside world offered little but fine words to the victims of atrocity crimes. One response to the problem of mass atrocities has come in the form of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle.

  • Gender Identity, Gender Based Violence, and the Responsibility to Protect

    Tommaso Trillò, University of Oxford, UK

    Over the last few decades, attention to gender issues has consistently grown in virtually all fields, from economics to anthropology, from public policy to humanitarian intervention. Despite expanding popularity, however, “gender” remains a rather marginalized area of study. As a matter of fact, “gender” is often treated as a “something to do on the side” of other initiatives, most of the time depending on the availability of residual funding after “more relevant” issues have been addressed. The mass atrocity prevention community is not immune from this dynamic. Despite a verbal commitment to the mainstreaming of gender issues as key elements of concern, gender-related projects remain relatively underfunded and marginalized. As a starting point, this article recommends four avenues for immediate action: First, gender should be recognized by the R2P community as a social category that is as meaningful as race, nationality, and ethnicity. Second, the equation of “gender” with “women” should be abandoned because it is detrimental to the achievement of full protection needs for specific groups currently neglected. Third, neither of the two biological sexes should enjoy better protection under the framework of “gender”. Rather, both groups should be recognized as having gender-specific protection needs and therefore be the object of specific protection policies and actions. Fourth, as the international community already possesses the tools to offer full protection to people facing gender based violence through the 1951 Refugee Convention and the R2P, what needs to be addressed is the discourse to increase commitment and reduce pockets of exclusion.

  • The Role of Legitimacy in UN Security Council Decision to "Re-Hat" the African Union's Peacekeeping Mission in the Central African Republic

    Dominique Fraser, The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Switzerland

    Legitimacy is an important, yet often under-analysed component of international relations. This article takes the case study of the Central African Republic to argue that legitimacy concerns are central to the UN Security Council’s decision to take over an African Union's (AU) peacekeeping mission. When the Council debated whether to re-hat the failing mission in the central African state in 2014, legitimacy concerns impacted its decision in three ways. First, France advocated for a takeover as it wished to withdraw its troops but was aware that the AU’s mission alone was unable to protect civilians. This recognition also led the U.S. and UK to the conclusion that UN peacekeeping had become necessary, as the Council's legitimacy is perceived to depend on its willingness and ability to protect civilians. Second, the AU and France had successfully established a basic level of security. This meant that the preconditions for successful UN deployment were met. Third, France’s support for a UN takeover was influenced by legitimacy concerns as France’s intervention in the Central African Republic was unwelcome by many locals on the ground. These three factors impacted on the UN Security Council’s decision to authorise the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSCA on the 10th of April 2014 by Resolution 2149, less than a year after MISCA had been established and despite AU resistance to the transfer.

  • Caveat Visitator: Alternatives to Rome Statute Obligations for the Arrest of ICC Indictees

    Ben Taylor, The University of Queensland, Australia

    The recent visit of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to South Africa in June 2015, and the ensuing international controversy at the thwarted prospects of his arrest there, has once again drawn attention to the relationship between the International Criminal Court and states. This article explores the avenues for an arrest of President al-Bashir outside of the Rome Statute. By examining UN Security Council Resolutions, the Genocide Convention and the obligation to 'extradite or punish', it argues that indicted visitors such as al-Bashir must beware not just Rome Statute membership where they visit, but also parties to the Conventions against Torture, Enforced Disappearances and Hostage taking; to the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol I; former members of the Rome Statute who remain members of the Genocide Convention; and any state the Security Council decides shall cooperate with the International Criminal Court.

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