On Monday, October 5, 2015, the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP) held an event at the UN Church Centre for the launch of a special edition of the academic journal Pensamiento Propio, published by the Argentina-based organization la Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales (CRIES). The special issue of the publication, entitled “Latin America and the Responsibility to Protect: Divergent Views from the South?” commemorates the tenth anniversary of the principle of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). The publication has been made available on the CRIES website.
The event featured a discussion panel made up of a variety of experts who discussed the progress made, as well as the challenges faced, by the Latin American region over the past decade on the Responsibility to Protect. Panelists included: Andrei Serbin Pont, Research Coordinator at CRIES and Editor of Pensamiento Propio, Patrick Travers, Adviser to the Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect, William Pace, Executive Director of World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy, and AIPR’s Executive Director, Dr. Tibi Galis.
Mr. William Pace opened the event, discussing the current state of inter-governmental collaboration on the prevention of genocide. Mr. Pace asserted that, despite the pessimistic tone of the media, governments are significantly better equipped now to cooperate in the prevention of mass atrocities than they were at the conclusion of the United Nations World Summit in 2005.
Andrei Serbin Pont spoke subsequently about the organizational framework of the special issue of Pensamiento Propio. He explained that perspectives on R2P in Latin America can be separated into three camps: “Champions”, “Skeptics”, and the “Grey Zone”. Each of the three perspectives received its own section, with a case study on El Salvador concluding the publication.
Dr. Tibi Galis, AIPR’s Executive Director, spoke third, about the state of genocide prevention in Latin America. He explained that Latin American countries have been at the vanguard of effort to localize concepts and standards that have become international human rights norms. Dr. Galis warned against describing this as the “domestication of international norms” in Latin America, as many of the current mechanisms in the region have developed, organically and independent of external influence, through the construction of democratic institutions. He asserted that, indeed, the rest of the world has much to learn from the nature of this development in the Latin American region.
Patrick Travers followed Dr. Galis, emphasizing that the development of human rights and prevention norms occurs organically and simultaneously in all regions of the world. Mr. Travers explained that, because of this, regional organizations are vital to the success of R2P efforts. He also asserted the importance of recognizing the fact that the Global South is equally responsible for the development of R2P and that the principle is not solely a Western concept.
The event then concluded with a Q&A session, with questions from the audience on the nature of collaborative implementation of R2P in Latin America, motivations for states to play the role of “Champion”, “Skeptic” or to exist in the “Grey Zone”, and the future of R2P in the region.
In addition to its work in conducting national-level seminars and the Latin American edition of the Raphael Lemkin Seminar, the Auschwitz Institute serves as Technical Secretariat to the Latin American Network for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention.