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With the 2013 BRICS Summit wrapping up this week, Brazil’s role on the international stage is getting plenty of attention. OpenCanada talked to experts about Brazil’s influence on the normative development of ‘Responsibility to Protect’, specifically, its advocacy of RwP, or “Responsibility While Protecting.” As the developing world becomes increasingly vocal in international debates on intervention policy, understanding where views are split will likely prove critical to making progress. In the articles below, you’ll find out how R2P and RwP fit in architecture of intervention, and whether Brazil’s contribution is a constructive or potentially harmful one.


The Mirage of R2P’s “BRICS Wall”

Patrick Quinton-Brown on how a shifting world order is shaping the political debates over intervention.


A Responsibility to Prevent

OpenCanada talked to Naomi Kikoler about the need to clarify when and how the international community should step in to prevent mass atrocities.


The ABC’s of RWP

OpenCanada talked to Dr. Malte Brosig about how the Responsibility While Protecting differs from the Responsibility to Protect.


With Power Comes Responsibility

OpenCanada talked to Gilberto Rodrigues about Brazil’s increased interest in and impact on R2P.



In 2001, Canada established the International Commission on State Sovereignty. For the next couple of years, diplomats and academics debated the idea in the UN General Assembly and in international publications. In 2002, Gareth Evans (the former foreign minister of Australia) and Mohamed Sahnoun (a former senior Algerian diplomat) looked at the concept of international intervention for a piece in Foreign Affairs. They decried the lack of rules governing the Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Kosovo cases of the previous decade, and argue that UN-mandated rules for the protection of human rights abroad should be drafted and agreed upon.

Three years later, the R2P norm was enshrined. With this came the determination that sovereignty was a responsibility, and not an absolute right. Gareth Evans, President of International Crisis Group and co-chair of the ICISS, addressed a U.S. audience to explain the need for an international commitment to human welfare. He discussed the nascent policy as it applied to the Darfur crisis, then reached back into the annals of history to describe how international legal instruments had evolved to allow for the development of such an ambitious doctrine.

Days after France entered Libyan airspace in 2011, and the day NATO’s naval blockade commenced, debate raged on the perceived necessity and morality of violating state sovereignty for the purpose of removing the murderous Muammar Gaddafi. Ian Williams of The Guardian addressed the R2P debate surrounding the conflict. He argued that the coalition effort to intervene was developed in good conscience, and was strategically and morally correct – stating that the mission “emerges with great credibility.”

In The Globe and Mail, Canada’s own Louise Arbour, Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, argued that the emerging R2P principle in practice has had some disastrous results. While pointing out that the NATO coalition overinterpreted its mandate in the Libyan intervention, she outlines possible consequences for Syria, and reminds the public that the fallout of regime change is a necessary consideration for UN member states wishing to use force for civilian protection. She also chides the Security Council for not applying itself to ensure dangerous despots, after removal, are placed in the custody of the ICC.

Brazil emerged as a leader on international intervention policy, proposing the RWP (Responsibility While Protecting) amendments to the R2P doctrine, which had been somewhat undermined by the unpopular foray into Libya. Connor Foley with The Guardian explored the proposed policy of Brazil’s President, Dilma Roussef, and her state’s anti-imperialist approach to inter-state conflict resolution. Foley maintains that this shift is made possible by changing balance of power politics in the international arena. With the economic and political decline of traditional Western powers, will Brazil lead the world’s police force in a new multipolar world?

  • Jean Daudelin, Carleton U.

    Before Brazil can “lead the world’s police force,” it may need to clean up its act at home: what can “responsibility for protecting” can possibly mean in a country where 50,000 people were murdered last week, and at least 2000 were killed by the police.

    Brasilia’s version of R2P is posturing. Now, looking at Syria and the DRC, what else is the “old” R2P?

  • Jean Daudelin, Carleton U.

    Correction: 42,000 last YEAR, and 1000 is SP and Rio de Janeiro. More on