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

Upcoming Airdates

Adapting to Climate Change

Climate change affects us all, and less-developed communities, that are more closely tied to the land, often suffer more directly from environmental transformation. The changes include dramatic fluctuation of water sources, diminishing crop yields, and failure of long-held farming techniques. Discover how community leaders are adjusting, engaging with the international community and seeking innovative methods and new technologies to find sustainable ways of living.

Breaking Gender Stereotypes

People all over the world are confronting traditional norms around gender and sexuality that are difficult to break. Despite opposition and discrimination from their communities, these people are armed with the courage to truly be themselves. The small steps people take to assert their role in society, can result in major leaps for future generations.

Storytelling Across the Globe

Virtual reality experiences, comic books, and architectural mapping are all forms of storytelling being used by artists and activists around the world to raise awareness of social problems. From calling out sexual assault in India to documenting war crimes in Gaza, these modes of communication are connecting people to issues across the world.

The Resilience of Children

The future of our communities lies in protecting our most vulnerable yet most resilient members: our children. But often, children are the first victims of war and poverty. Many face horrifying events and live with the trauma for the rest of their lives. Despite this, some children survive these events to become leaders of their communities and voices for peace.

Taboo Health Issues

Many communities around the world see disease and mental illness not as something to be treated, but as something to be feared. As a result, many suffering from curable conditions are stigmatized within their communities. But through education and organizing, some people are challenging these stigmas and addressing previously taboo health issues.