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HC Coombs Policy Forum presents

The development and evolution of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) as international policy

Public lecture


22nd September 2015


Barton Theatre , Level 1, JG Crawford Building 132, Lennox Crossing, ANU


Ramesh Thakur, Director, Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, Crawford School and Gary Quinlan, Deputy Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.



The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is widely acknowledged as one of the most significant normative developments in world affairs since 1945. It argues that state sovereignty implies a responsibility to protect all peoples inside territorial borders. But if the state fails in its responsibility, the United Nations must act on a residual responsibility to protect at-risk civilians from mass atrocities.

First formulated by an independent commission in 2001 that was co-chaired by ANU Chancellor Professor Gareth Evans and included ANU Professor Ramesh Thakur as a Commissioner (he was then a senior UN official), R2P was adopted unanimously by the United Nations in 2005. Professors Evans and Thakur were also authors of the 2001 report. Australians thus had a central role as key architects of the new norm and Australia remains a strong proponent of the norm. Ambassador Gary Quinlan had to grapple with many R2P crises during his time as Australia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations with a seat on the Security Council. In this panel discussion, Professor Thakur and former UN Ambassador Quinlan will offer personal reflections on the R2P journey over the past 10 to 15 years.

The event will be chaired by Allan Gyngell AO, Convener, HC Coombs Policy Forum, Crawford School.

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