Public Lecture by Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

03 March 2014
simon adams photo_website

On 24th January 2014, the Centre was pleased to welcome Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect during his visit to New Zealand.

In his seminar, Dr Adams argued that the responsibility to protect is an emerging international norm, pointing out the changed discourse around responses to atrocities since the Rwandan genocide in the early 1990s. Looking at examples from Rwanda to Srebrenica, and from Kosovo to Libya and Syria, Dr Adams assessed the successes and failures of Responsibility to Protect. He stated that he believed that the battle of ideas has been won, but that the responsibility to protect doctrine had yet to be successfully and predictably operationalised.

It is generally accepted now, he argued, that the international community of states does owe a responsibility of care to populations caught up in mass atrocity. The remaining point of debate centers on how the international community should react in the face of atrocity, not whether the international community should react. In the course of his seminar, Dr Adams repeatedly stated that responsibility to protect ought not be understood as a synonym for a right of states to militarily intervene in other states. Rather, Dr Adams, argued responsibility to protect should be properly understood as a preventive doctrine.

Looking ahead, Dr Adams stated that he feels that an important question is the reform of the Security Council, both in terms of its working method and its membership, in other words, the veto system and the control of the Security Council by its five permanent members.



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