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Politics & Current Affairs

Why we Stopped Accepting Mass Atrocities

How did we go from seeing genocide and other large-scale crimes against humanity as a consensus-free zone to today's overwhelming acceptance of the "responsibility to protect"?

What’s the Latest Development?


Gareth Evans examines what saw the world go from complete ideological division on the response to mass-atrocity crimes to the current overwhelming consensus on the basic principles of the “responsibility to protect” (R2P) doctrine. One reason it caught on is that R2P is about a lot more than coercive military intervention. Its options are nuanced and multidimensional.

What’s the Big Idea?

“Our debates are now about how, not whether, to implement the responsibility to protect,” U. N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in September, reflecting the now overwhelming consensus on the fundamental principles of R2P. Evans says that for every two steps forward on R2P there is usually one back, but “by any measurement, the achievement of the past decade–universal agreement that state sovereignty is not a license to kill–has been tremendous.”


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