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The Responsibility to Protect: Integrating Gender Perspectives into Policies and Practices

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Despite the fact that the development of the R2P principle has occurred in parallel to significant developments in the field of gender on the international scene, gender remains a neglected topic in the central documents and debates related to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). There is therefore a need to consider how gender may be integrated into R2P policies and practices. This article suggests that this discussion may be structured around two gender perspectives, which are guided by the questions of ‘where are the women?’ and ‘how does gender work?’ respectively. The first gender perspective involves identifying women’s experiences in connection with mass atrocities and taking into account their role as agents in the commissioning, as well as the prevention of, and protection against, such atrocities. The second gender perspective involves investigating what work gender is doing in the context of mass atrocities. Here, the focus is specifically on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and how this is based on, and serves to maintain or reinforce, certain notions of femininity and masculinity. Based on these two gender perspectives, the article presents a series of recommendations for the development of R2P policies and practices.

Affiliations: 1: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, Email:, URL:


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