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Making RtoP a Living Reality: Reflections on the 2012 General Assembly Dialogue on Timely and Decisive Response

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This article reflects upon the UN General Assembly’s 2012 informal interactive dialogue on the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP), which was on the theme of ‘timely and decisive response’. It shows that although Member States recognize that ‘timely and decisive’ responses to genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity could sometimes prove controversial, none disputed the occasional necessity of robust enforcement measures when properly authorized by the Security Council and used as a last resort. Against this backdrop, the paper identifies and engages with three of the key challenges that emerged in the dialogue: the relationship between the the three pillars of RtoP, the problem of consistency in the application of the principle, and the challenge of making prevention a ‘living reality’. The paper identifies ways of navigating these challenges and proposes a pathway for the further consolidation of RtoP in international practice.

Affiliations: 1: Griffith University,


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