• Roland Paris

The Blurry Boundary between Peacebuilding and the Responsibility to Protect

In Alex J. Bellamy and Tim Dunne, eds., Oxford Handbook on the Responsibility to Protect (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 509-523 Abstract: Policy practitioners and scholars have tended to treat the responsibility to protect (R2P) and peacebuilding as separate domains. This chapter, in contrast, argues that these two domains are more closely connected than both the policy discourse and much of the academic literature would suggest. Peacebuilding appears to be an integral part of R2P, and peacebuilding strategies aimed at reducing the risks of conflict relapse are core strategies for preventing atrocity crimes. Further, the use of coercive military force to stop an imminent or actual atrocity crime creates its own requirement for post-crisis peacebuilding. Thus, closer analysis of the relationship between peacebuilding and R2P would benefit both practitioners and scholars. Introduction: POLICY practitioners and scholars have tended to treat the responsibility to protect (R2P) and peacebuilding as separate domains. There are, indeed, important differences between the two concepts: peacebuilding normally refers to creating the conditions for lasting peace and preventing the recurrence of large-scale violence in countries emerging from conflict, whereas R2P focuses on averting mass atrocities. In this chapter, however, I argue that these two domains are more closely connected than the policy discourse and much of the academic literature suggest, and that closer analysis of the relationship between peacebuilding and R2P would benefit both practitioners and scholars. Some of these links are clear. Because mass atrocities are most likely to occur in the context of armed conflict, for instance, successful peacebuilding should help to reduce the incidence of such crimes. The connections, however, run deeper. As we shall see, studies of R2P and peacebuilding often produce very similar policy recommendations, including calls to strengthen justice systems, conduct fair elections, and address underlying grievances in vulnerable societies. Strangely, however, these and other links between R2P and peacebuilding remain largely underexplored. One explanation for this relative silence may be the manner in which R2P gained prominence. The connections between R2P and peacebuilding were explicit in the landmark 2001 report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), which presented a tripartite model of R2P consisting of a responsibility to prevent mass atrocities, a responsibility to react if such atrocities are imminent or ongoing, and a responsibility to rebuild after an intervention. The responsibility to rebuild, moreover, included a duty ‘to provide, particularly after a military intervention, full assistance with recovery, reconstruction and reconciliation, addressing the causes of the harm the intervention was designed to halt or avert’. This was, in effect, a call for post-crisis peacebuilding. However, when the United Nations (UN) General Assembly (p. 510) gave its formal endorsement to the R2P concept in 2005, it focused on the responsibilities to prevent and to react, but did not mention the responsibility to rebuild. Since then, the UN Secretary-General has issued several reports and statements on R2P and peacebuilding, respectively, but has rarely treated them in the same document, or considered either concept in relation to the other. This separation, I shall argue, is unwarranted on both conceptual and practical grounds. The remainder of this chapter is divided into five parts. First, I provide a brief overview of peacebuilding and its purposes. Second, I examine the ICISS report and the responsibility to rebuild. Third, I contend that since 2005 R2P and peacebuilding have been treated as two solitudes within the UN. Fourth, I make the case that these two domains not only deal with overlapping issues, but are contingent on each other. Finally, I use the 2011 intervention in Libya to illustrate the dangers of treating R2P and peacebuilding as separate issues. Continue reading...

Roland Paris
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

University of Ottawa

120 University Private, Room 6053

Ottawa, Ontario, K1Y 3M5, Canada

rparis@uottawa.ca

© Roland Paris 2020