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A Model Case of R2P Prevention? Mediation in the Aftermath of Kenya’s 2007 Presidential Elections

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The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) comprises the responsibility to prevent, to react, and to rebuild. What sets R2P apart from the previously prevailing idea of humanitarian intervention is, first, an emphasis on prevention, and second, a stated preference for a multilaterally coordinated response to crises. The third and perhaps newest feature of R2P is the idea that regional organisations have an important role to play in facilitating conflict resolution and the implementation of the Responsibility to Protect. Kenya’s post-election violence in 2007 was widely viewed as the first case of ‘R2P prevention’. International mediation efforts by the African Union Panel of Eminent Personalities, under the leadership of the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and with the support of the UN and other actors, were successful at resolving the conflict without the use of coercive measures. Kenya was seen as R2P’s success story – multilaterally orchestrated action to prevent an escalation of conflict, with heavy reliance on regional actors. This paper questions to what extent this account holds true, and whether the Kenyan case really was a successful instance of ‘R2P prevention’. An analysis of the Kenyan case ultimately leads to the conclusion that the application of R2P was, in fact, unrelated to the success of the conflict mitigation efforts. The Kenyan context was one which was favourable to the success of the mediation, and it is unlikely R2P would have succeeded without these contingent factors. Nevertheless, the application of R2P to the Kenyan case served to promote R2P as a framework that emphasises non-coercive, preventative intervention facilitated through regional actors.

Affiliations: 1: London School of Economics,


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