International Conference on Responsibility to Protect (R2P)

NEW DELHI - On Monday, October 8 WFUNA and the Indian Federation of United Nations Associations (IFUNA) invited civil society members, academics and UN and government officials to a day-long Conference on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in New Delhi, India. This event was a follow up to the Symposium Series WFUNA held in 2011 and the beginning of 2012 in Kenya, China and Venezuela in conjunction with the Government of Sweden which looked at the Responsibility to Protect and its added value to mass atrocity prevention framework. Believing that more outreach to the regions, particularly where conflict is taking place and where individuals can better respond to escalating violence, is essential WFUNA partnered with its local UNA in India to expand the global debate on R2P and to encourage discussion on the issue in India. Over 60 participants from nearly all states in India, including Ambassadors and government representatives from Denmark, Norway, UK, the Arab League and Tunisia, and 10 media outlets turned up for the day.

The Conference took up the theme of this year's General Assembly Informal Dialogue on R2P which focused on third pillar measures. While governments, including India, generally accept R2P as an international norm, in the light of the recent developments in Libya and Syria questions have emerged as to how the international community should employ their responsibility and when third pillar measures should be used. R2P, and in particular, its third pillar which calls for timely and decisive action by the international community either diplomatically, humanitarianly, peacefully and as a last resort by stronger measures if the state in question fails has received increasing criticism. To mediate criticisms and improve the implementation of R2P, countries such as Brazil have taken a leading role in developing ideas by introducing the concept of “responsibility while protecting” (RwP) – which looks at the responsibility of states while intervening under the R2P framework. Under the premise that India as an emerging and influential power should play a larger, more pro-active and constructive role in the debate on implementing R2P the Conference sought to ask key members of the UN community, civil society members and government officials if, when and how it is suitable for the international community to intervene to protect civilians from mass atrocities.
WFUNA and IFUNA aims to continue building the capacity of these stakeholders in India to be more involved in the debate but can only do so with the support and participation of governments, media and civil society themselves.