The Vatican Affirms the Church’s Support of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P)


The Vatican has reiterated its support for the Responsibility to Protect:

The Holy See upholds the perennial validity of the Responsibility to Protect and wishes to reaffirm its commitment to this principle and call for its full, impartial and consistent implementation. Such an application means, as the report of the Secretary General recommends, meeting obligations under international human rights and international humanitarian law, and condemning deliberate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructures. It means preventing or stopping atrocity crimes and protecting populations from them through greater legal, political and moral accountability. The Holy See thus supports those initiatives that will facilitate the observance of obligations under the Responsibility to Protect, such as the Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity, as well as the inclusion of mandates to protect civilians in peacekeeping operations.

Finally, the Holy See would like to highlight the increasing importance of the concrete implementation of the Responsibility to Protect in the context of the migration and refugee crises. The use of threats to commit atrocity crimes against populations or the actual commission thereof as a strategy to displace them forcibly must be condemned, prevented or stopped. Both the right of all to remain in their own homelands and the right to return and regain possession of property must also be enforced under the norm.

Over and above every consideration, our common humanity impels us all to assist the victims of atrocity crimes and to respond in solidarity to their needs in the most humane and fraternal way possible. When the international community fails to exercise adequately the Responsibility to Protect, we all have a great and urgent responsibility, as Pope Francis has proposed, to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate the victims of those failures.

Under the UN, the Responsibility to Protect has three pillars:

Pillar One: Every state has the Responsibility to Protect its populations from four mass atrocity crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

Pillar Two: The wider international community has the responsibility to encourage and assist individual states in meeting that responsibility.

Pillar Three: If a state is manifestly failing to protect its populations, the international community must be prepared to take appropriate collective action, in a timely and decisive manner and in accordance with the UN Charter.

These principles originated in a 2001 report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty and were endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document paragraphs 138, 139 and 140.