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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dr. Lloyd Axworthy and the Responsibility to Protect

On Tuesday, November 22, Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, a former Canadian Minister of External Affairs, will speak about the Responsibility to Protect principle. Dr. Axworthy has served twice as President of the UN Security Council. He is know for his advocacy of an International Criminal Court and for his work on the abolition of land mines, for which he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

The event will take place in room 25 of Mondale Hall from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The rights of States traditionally trumped the rights of people. But in 2005 the United Nations General Assembly unanimously approved a fundamentally new concept of what sovereignty meant, declaring that it not only gave States certain rights, but also entailed the responsibility of States to protect their own citizens.
Further, the new doctrine stipulated that when States failed to uphold this responsibility, the international community, acting through the UN, had not only a right, but an obligation, to act in the interest of endangered populations and could even use force to do so, though only as a last resort, when all other means of peaceful intervention had been exhausted.
Laudable though the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine appears, it must be admitted that the international resolve to apply it has been wanting on multiple occasions. Why this is so and what can be done about the problem will be addressed by Dr. Axworthy during the course of his presentation.