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Engendering the Responsibility to Protect: Women and the Prevention of Mass Atrocities

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This article explores the relationship between the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and the pursuit of the so-called ‘Women, Peace and Security’ (WPS) agenda at the UN. We ask whether the two agendas should continue to be pursued separately or whether each can make a useful contribution to the other. We argue that while the history of R2P has not included language that deliberately evokes the protection of women and the promotion of gender in preventing genocide and mass atrocities, this does not preclude the R2P and WPS agendas becoming mutually reinforcing. The article identifies cross-cutting areas where the two agendas may be leveraged for the UN and member states to address the concerns of women as both actors in need of protection and active agents in preventing and responding to genocide and mass atrocities, namely in the areas of early warning.

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