The question of international responsibility for protecting civilians at risk has long been a topic of heated debate within the global community. From the protection of civilians in peacekeeping mandates to the principle of “responsibility to protect,” the international community has grappled with the question of its role in protecting people when their governments are unable or unwilling to do so. The NATO-led operation to prevent Muammar Qaddafi’s forces from inflicting mass atrocities on Libyan civilians was the first United Nations-authorized military intervention which explicitly invoked the “responsibility to protect” principle as grounds for action.
On January 9, the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement hosted a discussion on what the Libyan intervention means for future international efforts to protect civilians. Panelists included Edward Luck, the United Nations special advisor on the responsibility to protect; Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow Richard Williamson; and Jared Genser, an international human rights lawyer; Genser is co-editor with Irwin Cotler of The Responsibility to Protect: The Promise of Stopping Mass Atrocities in Our Times (Oxford University Press, 2011). Senior Fellow Elizabeth Ferris, co-director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement, provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion.
After the program, panelists took audience questions.