2015 Federal Election: Question 2

Canadian Foreign and Defence Policy After October 2015:

Questions for the political parties from the World Federalist Movement – Canada

2. Develop the international “Responsibility to Protect.”

Will your party ensure that the next Government of Canada makes advancing the Responsibility to Protect a goal of its foreign policy?


The “Responsibility to Protect” is an international norm that spells out what states and the international community should do to protect civilians threatened by mass atrocity crimes such as genocide and crimes against humanity.

Obtaining agreed language on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle was one of the most important achievements of the 2005 UN Reform World Summit. Since that time support has grown and the norm is now widely accepted. However implementation of the Responsibility to Protect has been inconsistent and at times controversial. There is much that needs to be done to strengthen the UN and operationalize the R2P commitments made at the 2005 World Summit.

Some examples of practical measures that could be undertaken by Canada to advance R2P include:

  • Join the growing number of states that have appointed a nationa R2P focal point, a body that is mandated to coordinate support for R2P across the various agencies and departments of government;
  • Join the ACT (accountability, coherence, transparency) group of states that are calling for limitations on the use of the Security Council veto in instances of mass atrocity crimes;
  • Prioritize conflict prevention by strengthening United Nations early warning and conflict mediation capacities;
  • Work diplomatically to improve political oversight and accountability in Security Council mandated operations under the Responsibility to Protect;
  • Strengthen the “responsibility to rebuild,” the UN’s peacebuilding and reconstruction efforts that necessarily follow peace agreements in conflict-affected states. Examples would include support for the UN’s current review of its peacebuilding architecture, and in Canada providing stable long term funding to the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force.


Bloc Québeçois

Conservative Party

Green Party

The Green Party of Canada is committed to the United Nations’ “responsibility to protect” (R2P)
doctrine. Canada is well suited to contribute to practical, innovative means of civilmilitary cooperation and to provide essential support to deliver humanitarian and development assistance in complex conflict zones. The Green Party supports the role of the UN in diplomatic intervention and international peacekeeping, including acting with an R2P mandate in situations where a state is not protecting its own citizens, such as in Darfur.

However, the Green Party objects to certain missions being characterized, as R2P. Elizabeth May’s was the sole vote against the continued bombing of Libya in the spring of 2011. NATO had lost sight of its original mandate and mission, with the focus of the engagement shifting from protecting civilians according to the principles of R2P to removing Colonel Gaddafi at all costs. Ms. May defended R2P in her speech to Parliament explaining her vote.

Greens will continue to advocate for the advancement of R2P as a key Canadian foreign policy goal.

Liberal Party

Yes, a Liberal government will maintain Canada’s commitment to Responsibility to Protect, which reflects Canadian values and principles. Canada does not have to always take a combat role, but Responsibility to Protect does compel us to help. Canada has a long, proud tradition of helping those in need throughout the world and we have expertise that can make us valuable in supporting nations in crisis with humanitarian aid.

New Democratic Party

New Democrats have advocated on behalf of the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect, and will continue to do so.

Strength in Democracy

Reviewing the advancement of R2P commitment would be a priority.

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