Altair Guimarães

Responsibility To Protect?

Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is a principle created when leaders at the UN joined together in 2005 to declare that, when national leaders were harming or failing to protect their citizens, the international community had the right and responsibility to step in and do so. But how and when such interventions should take place has always been up for debate. A decade later, and five years into a bloody war in Syria that has spurred the worst refugee crisis since WWII, and shows no signs of ending, is R2P guiding political action at all?

"The people who pay the price for our failure to protect civilians are in Aleppo, right now, as we speak. And that should shock the conscience of anybody who thinks of this issue," says Michael Ignatieff, Canadian author and former politician.

This short documentary offers a history of the principle and asks eminent diplomats, politicians, and thinkers (Ghassan Salame, Michael Ignatieff, and Paddy Ashdown) with hands-on experience with humanitarian interventions to share their thoughts and answer the question: Is R2P still relevant, or is it a notion from another era?

"Sometimes you're damned if you do, damned if you don't," Ignatieff says. "If you don't intervene, you get Syria. if you do intervene, you can get Lybia. But you can also get Kosovo. You can also get the protection of the Kurds."

Full Episodes

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One Man, One City, Three Evictions

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What You Can Do

Learn more about the topics covered in this episode with the following organizations: