The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Global Security Studies

Living Edition
| Editors: Scott Romaniuk, Manish Thapa, Péter Marton

Responsibility to Protect (R2P)

  • Eugenio LilliEmail author
Living reference work entry


The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is a relatively recent concept that tries to solve the tensions existing between the more established principles of state sovereignty and of humanitarian intervention. In his 2009 Report: Implementing the Responsibility to Protect (Ki-moon 2009), then-UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon offered a clear definition of R2P as composed of three pillars. Pillar One asserts that state sovereignty includes the responsibility of each individual state to protect its own population, whether nationals or not, from atrocities. Pillar Two affirms the international community’s commitment to supporting individual states in meeting this responsibility. Pillar Three holds that the international community has a responsibility to collectively intervene in cases when individual states are manifestly failing to protect their population from atrocities. Pillar Three also allows the international community to resort to both peaceful and coercive measures...


Sovereignty Humanitarian intervention United Nations Security Council Libya 
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Further Reading

  1. Bellamy, A. J. (2009). Responsibility to protect. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  2. Sarah Brockmeier,(et al). The impact of the Libya intervention debates on norms of protection, Global Society, 30, 1, 2016. 113–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Deng, F. M. (2010). From ‘sovereignty as responsibility’ to the ‘responsibility to protect’. Global Responsibility to Protect, 2(4), 353–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Kurtz, G., & Rotmann, P. (2016). The evolution of norms of protection: Major powers debate the responsibility to protect. Global Society, 30(1), 3–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. The International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (website containing all the major documents and decisions related to R2P).

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University College DublinDublinIreland