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The UN Secretary-General and the Forgotten Third R2P Responsibility

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The responsibility to rebuild needs to be re-elevated to prominence as an integral component of R2P: conceptually, normatively and operationally; and its institutional homes in the UN system and the Secretary-General’s role clarified. The 2009 three pillar formulation of R2P works well in most contexts, but is problematic in that it buries and loses sight of the critical importance of the original ICISS third ‘responsibility to rebuild’ and reconstruct war-raved societies to the point of being viable and self-sustaining once again. We derive some key lessons from the major international interventions of the twenty-first century and recall the context in which R2P was originally formulated in order to highlight the distinctive features of its contribution to international policy. We then describe three dimensions of the responsibility to rebuild – recovery, reconstruction and reconciliation – and the strategies and steps needed for the rebuilding agenda. Recalling that Security Council authorisation of R2P coercive operations is a nonnegotiable prerequisite, we suggest that the responsibility to rebuild can be reintroduced and implemented through the administrative and political leadership roles of the Secretary-General.

Affiliations: 1: Durham University, ; 2: The Australian National University,


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