AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies

The responsibility to protect: from doctrine to practice ‘R2P’ and protection of civilians: case study: DRC

by Francoise Joly

Institution: Dublin City University
Department: School of Law and Government
Year: 2015
Keywords: Law; Mass atrocities; Protection of civilians; Democratic Republic of Congo
Record ID: 1179909
Full text PDF: http://doras.dcu.ie/20240/


This thesis aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) framework to protect civilians against mass atrocities. To test the efficacy and workability of the emerging norm and its added value to the current legal and normative framework in relation with the protection of civilians, the thesis investigates the ways in which R2P was applied or should have applied in practice to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s conflict. Despite considerable efforts made to address the situation of civilians embroiled in armed conflict, the international legal and normative framework has shown itself to be inadequate due to the changing nature of conflicts and the lack of implementation of existing legal instruments. This has led to the situation in which civilians are continuously facing mass atrocities. While R2P sought to strengthen international responses to conflicts characterized by the commission of war crimes, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and genocide, it is notable that the emerging norm has yet to be invoked in the DRC conflict. However, through an assessment of the application of the R2P to the conflict, the study finds that the international community’s initiative to address the conflict situation in eastern DRC came at a time when the need to find a common solution as to how to develop the R2P framework within the United Nations system became crucial. Nevertheless, the international response to the crisis did not prevent mass killing and the abuse of civilians, particularly the widespread sexual violence against women and young girls and the use of children as child soldiers. This thesis argues that the current United Nations strategy designed to address such a situation needs to be revised. It concludes with several suggestions and recommendations on how to improve the international responses to conflicts characterized by atrocity crimes in order to turn R2P framework into a reality on the ground.