Question 4: Develop the international “Responsibility to Protect”

Canadian Foreign Policy and Global Governance

Questions for the Canadian Federal Political Parties from the World Federalist Movement – Canada from the 2011 Federal Election

4. Develop the international “Responsibility to Protect.”

The “Responsibility to Protect” is an emerging international norm intended to spell out what states, and the international community, should do to protect civilians threatened mass atrocity crimes such as genocide and crimes against humanity. Obtaining agreed language (paragraphs 138 & 139) on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle and norm was one of the most important achievements of the 2005 UN Reform World Summit. There is much that needs to be done to strengthen the UN and operationalize the commitments made at the 2005 World Summit.

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

Bloc Québécois

L’un des principes qui guident l’action de l’ONU est d’éviter que des interventions ne se fassent en dehors du droit international et de l’aval du Conseil de sécurité. Pourtant, dans certaines situations, la communauté internationale a la responsabilité de protéger les populations, comme au Rwanda en 1994, par exemple.

Une intervention militaire, même non sanctionnée par le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies, peut être justifiée pour éviter des violations massives des droits humains. Les modalités d’intervention restent cependant à définir – et c’est là tout un défi.

Pour des raisons humanitaires, guidé par la position prise par le Conseil de l’Europe, le Bloc Québécois avait appuyé l’intervention au Kosovo.

Exceptionnellement, lorsque le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies n’arrive pas à prendre position et que des populations se trouvent victimes de graves crimes de guerre, de crimes contre l’humanité ou de génocide, le Bloc Québécois pourrait appuyer une intervention visant à protéger les populations civiles.


One of the principles that guides the UN is that interventions do not go outside of international law and Security Council approval. Yet in some situations, the international community has a responsibility to protect populations, as in Rwanda in 1994, for example.

A military intervention, even if not sanctioned by the Security Council of the United Nations, can be justified to prevent massive violations of human rights. Intervention modalities remain to be defined – and this is quite a challenge.

For humanitarian reasons, guided by the position taken by the Council of Europe, the Bloc Québécois had supported the intervention in Kosovo.

Exceptionally, when the Security Council of the United Nations can not take a position and populations find themselves victims of serious war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide, the Bloc Québécois would support an intervention to protect civilians.

Conservative Party of Canada

No reply to this question has been received.

Green Party of Canada

Yes, the Green Party of Canada supports the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine in situations where a state is not protecting its own citizens. We believe Canada can and must increase its commitment to the UN and that there must be significant UN reform to make the organization more effective, especially within the UN Security Council. However, we oppose the use the R2P doctrine as a military solution to force aid relief on countries that are rejecting it as we feel military rather than diplomatic solutions can be counterproductive.

Liberal Party of Canada

Under the umbrella of Peace, Order and Good Government, the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) will provide a rigorous framework for renewed Canadian leadership in preventing and addressing conflict and mass-scale human rights abuse. Michael Ignatieff played a key role in developing R2P, as part of the Canadian-initiated, and UN-endorsed, International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty.

A Liberal government will lead a Canadian commitment to R2P. The world must know that Canada will stand ready to protect the innocent and the voiceless from barbarism.

We will advance international efforts to operationalize this doctrine, which provides a rigorous framework for preventing conflict and mass-scale abuse of human rights.

By advancing the acceptance and implementation of R2P, formally adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2005, Canada will not be dragged into conflicts haphazardly, or act as a boy scout trying to break up fights wherever they occur. What principled support for R2P does mean, however, is that when the world must act to stop large-scale slaughter of innocent people, Canada will be there with a highly skilled, battle-hardened military capacity, experienced in the complexities of modern conflict.


Également sous les auspices du concept de « la paix, l’ordre et le bon gouvernement », la doctrine de la responsabilité de protéger fournit un cadre de référence pour un leadership renouvelé du Canada en matière de prévention et de réponse aux cas de conflit et de violation systématique des droits de la personne. Michael Ignatieff a joué un rôle clé dans le développement de cette doctrine, qui a d’ailleurs été une initiative de la Commission internationale de l’intervention et de la souveraineté des États initiée par le Canada et appuyée par l’ONU.

Un gouvernement libéral prendra l’initiative dans un engagement canadien envers la responsabilité de protéger. Le monde doit savoir que le Canada se tiendra prêt à protéger les innocents et les sans voix contre le barbarisme.

Nous favoriserons des démarches internationales en vue d’opérationnaliser la doctrine de « responsabilité de protéger », qui offre un cadre d’analyse rigoureux servant à prévenir les conflits et les violations systématiques des droits de la personne.

En proposant l’acceptation et la mise en oeuvre de la doctrine R2P, officiellement adoptée en 2005 par l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU, le Canada évitera d’être mêlé de façon désordonnée à des conflits ou d’agir comme un scout qui cherche à mettre fin à tous les conflits un peu partout dans le monde. Appuyer par des principes la doctrine de la responsabilité de protéger, cela signifie quoi? Que le Canada enverra des militaires hautement compétents et aguerris qui comprennent bien les complexités des conflits modernes, si une intervention internationale est requise pour mettre fin aux massacres de personnes innocentes.

New Democratic Party

New Democrats are strong believers in the protection of Human Rights and feel the R2P principle should be a priority in foreign relations. Because of this New Democrats have strongly opposed the Harper Conservatives’ free trade agreements with regimes like Colombia which have proven not to respect human rights.

New Democrats will take practical steps to protect Human Rights abroad by implementing the recommendations of the 2007 National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility to ensure that Canadian companies abide by international human rights law and environmental standards when operating overseas, and develop and enforce sanctions if they do not.

We will work with partners for peace and justice in Israel and Palestine, within a framework of respect for United Nations resolutions and international law. This includes recognition of the right of both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace in viable, independent states with negotiated and agreed-upon borders.

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

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