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Responsibility to Protect Revisited

Security and Law: A Reality Check with Professor Gareth Evans

7 years of merciless civil war in Syria, a potential genocide against Rohingya people, and widespread violations of human rights in Venezuela did not lead to action by the UN Security Council. However, on 14 April 2018 the US, the UK and France launched airstrikes against Syrian military bases in retaliation for the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syria. The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court just opened a preliminary examination on the deportation of civilians in Myanmar. Recently, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States refused to exclude a military intervention to overthrow the government in Venezuela.

Responsibility to Protect (R2P) was adopted by the international community almost 15 years ago to address exactly these challenges. Is R2P able to inform State practice? Does it impact current policies? Or are we back to square one, meaning that the “never again” after the tragedies in Rwanda and Srebrenica was futile, and there is a need for a novel approach?

Professor the Hon Gareth Evans is one of the inventing fathers of R2P. He co-chaired the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty which introduced the R2P doctrine. Since then, he has led the efforts to overcome the conceptual, institutional and political challenges that need to be met to translate R2P into effective action.

Join the debate. Join the Reality Check.


Tobias Vestner, Security and Law Programme, Geneva Centre for Security Policy



Professor the Hon Gareth Evans has been Chancellor of the Australian National University since January 2010. He was a Cabinet Minister in the Australian Government from 1983-96 and Foreign Minister from 1988-96. From 2000 to 2009 he was President and CEO of the International Crisis Group. He has co-chaired two major International Commissions, on Intervention and State Sovereignty (2000-01) which introduced the concept of Responsibility to Protect (R2P), and Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (2008-10). He currently Co-Chairs the International Advisory Board of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.

He has written or edited 13 books and published nearly 150 journal articles, chapters, and reports. He has honorary doctorates from Melbourne, Sydney, Carleton and Queen’s Universities; and has lectured in Oxford, Cambridge, Princeton, Yale, Stanford and the Central European University.

Gareth Evans was made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 2012 and in the same year was elected an honorary Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia (FASSA). Foreign Policy magazine cited him as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers for 2011 "for making 'the responsibility to protect' more than academic". In 2010 he was awarded the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute Four Freedoms Award for Freedom from Fear, for his pioneering work on R2P, conflict prevention and resolution, arms control and disarmament.



Light refreshment will be provided

This event will be filmed. Questions from the audience will be recorded (audio) but no visual images will be recorded of the audience.



This public discussion is the fourth event of Security and Law: A Reality Check, the event series to address how international law matters in security affairs. The Reality Checks aim to critically assess if current norms fit contemporary and future security challenges, how international commitments can effectively be implemented, and how new international law can successfully be shaped. The series feature a new GCSP format: the audience attending the event is encouraged to steer the discussion by challenging the speakers and experts. Join the debate. Join the Reality Check.

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