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Responsibility While Protecting

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Brazil’s Proposal for Modifying Responsibility to Protect

In the evolution of the ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P) doctrine, the most significant recent development has been the ‘responsibility while protecting’ (RWP) proposal as put forward by Brazil in September 2011, with a more detailed statement in November 2011. The RWP proposal emphasised the use of force as a last resort, and the need to avoid ‘regime change’; it also argued for closer monitoring of the use of force when R2P was invoked. Brazil’s approach to R2P was influenced by its noninterventionist attitudes deriving from its historical experience of the world. Brazil favoured caution and a focus on the responsibility of the state in relation to R2P; involvement in Haiti from 2004 highlighted the development-oriented approach to peacebuilding that Brazil preferred. The experience of R2P in Libya in 2011 was the immediate occasion for Brazil advancing the RWP proposal, with the situation in Syria also highlighting Brazilian concerns. The Brazilian proposal has been modified to some extent in subsequent discussion within the UN, but the main thrust of the proposal remains; issues relating to R2P such as sequencing and implementation have been clarified but without an overall consensus being achieved. While the Western countries generally favour flexibility in relation to R2P, the BRICS countries and the Global South are generally more cautious in their approach. The reception of the RWP proposal highlights the growing importance of the BRICS countries and the Global South in an increasingly pluralistic world.

Affiliations: 1: University of Melbourne,


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