Ukraine and Responsibility to Protect (R2P): Present and Future Implications

By. Jina Choi Views. 860


Purpose: The war crimes allegedly committed against the civilian population in Ukraine by Russian military forces has generated multiple detrimental outcomes. Due to these war crimes, Russia was suspended from the United Nations Human Rights Council(UNHRC) as of April 2022. Russia’s alleged war crimes currently are undergoing thorough investigations by the UNHRC’s Commission of Inquiry. The current humanitarian situation in war-devastated Ukraine has been somewhat under researched.

Method: This paper employs the Responsibility to Protect(R2P) theory to examine the present and future of potential application of R2P in Ukraine. Based on resources from the R2P and human rights related research by the US government, the UN and its agencies, scholars, and experts, This article analyzes the failure of Russia to observe the principle of distinction between civilians and combatants as required by the Geneva Conventions, war-affected citizens in Ukraine, as well as potential application of the Responsibility to Protect(R2P) and its implication that the international community has a duty to protect civilians against Russian aggressions.

Results: The paper finds that the potential application of R2P in Ukraine will likely face some operational challenges within the UNSC, the potential application of R2P seems feasible as it is both legitimate and justifiable action in accordance with the international law. The actual application of R2P should however carefully be considered since the nature of use of force- often does more harm than good. The potential application of R2P might result in more harm to civilians if additional casualties are generated.

Conclusion: The international community should employ additional countermeasures such as added economic sanctions. Pressure should be brought to bear until Russia decides to refrain from war and negotiate a peace between Russia and Ukraine. The potential application of R2P in Ukraine should therefore be most carefully considered and maybe used as a last resort, to avoid and prevent a potential Third World War in coming months.

Keywords: The Responsibility to Protect(R2P), Humanitarian Law, Human Rights, Ukraine, Russia


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