Report from a High-Level Symposium on Enhancing Capacities to Protect Civilians and Build Sustainable Peace in Africa

"The report proposed a reconceptualisation of sovereignty – as a responsibility rather than only a right. It asserted that “sovereign states" have the primary responsibility for the protection of their people from avoidable catastrophe – from mass murder, rape, starvation – but when they are unable or unwilling to do so, that responsibility must be borne by the wider community of states”. The report suggested that the responsibility to protect embraced three specific responsibilities. Firstly, a “responsibility to prevent”: to address both the root causes and direct causes of internal conflict and other manmade crises putting populations at risk. Secondly, the “responsibility to react”: to respond to situations of compelling human need with appropriate measures, which may include coercive measures like sanctions and international prosecution, and in extreme cases military intervention. Thirdly, the “responsibility to rebuild”: to provide, particularly after a military intervention, full assistance with recovery, reconstruction and reconciliation, addressing the causes of the humanitarian crisis the intervention was designed to halt or avert."