The “responsibility to protect” concept, endorsed at the 2005 UN World Summit, made clear that individual states hold the primary responsibility to protect their own populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The international community also confirmed its readiness to act, collectively, to prevent and stop such crimes, through the United Nations. Such action includes using appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, including sanctions. On a case by case basis, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations, the UN Security Council may authorise the use of force.
Since the World Summit, the UN Security Council has adopted resolutions on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict and on Darfur, both of which refer to the World Summit agreement on the responsibility to protect. In addressing the situation in Darfur, we have also used diplomacy and applied political pressure; reminded the Sudanese Government of their own responsibility to the people of Darfur; worked through the Security Council to apply sanctions; referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court; and are working on UN support to the African Union Mission in Sudan.
Through the Global Conflict Prevention Pool, the UK is also supporting an NGO network to raise the profile of responsibility to protect with national governments and civil society, particularly in Africa.
The Government will continue to advocate appropriate and speedy responses—bilaterally, within the EU and UN, and at the Security Council—to protect vulnerable populations against genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.