Responsibility to protect: Ending mass atrocity crimes once and for all

Presented by Gareth Evans
24 October, 2008

Why you should listen

Gareth Evans

As Foreign Minister to the Keating and Hawke governments, Gareth Evans was intimately involved in resolving conflict in many of the world’s hot spots. Now, as President of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, he has come up with a doctrine to help avert mass atrocities worldwide and to prevent the international community having to say “never again” once more. In this Sydney Ideas lecture, Evans discusses the ideas behind “Responsibility to Protect”, a concept he helped create and the main motivation behind this idea. “Whatever else we mess up in the conduct of international relations,” he says, “at least let’s ensure that we never ever again screw up the response, as an international community, to cases of mass atrocity crime – genocide, ethnic cases, other major crimes against humanity.” In this revealing lecture, Evans, who as Foreign Minister was a key broker of the United Nations peace plan for Cambodia, talks about his “emotional” motivation for continuing the fight against mass atrocities. Gareth Evens is the author of nine books including The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All (Brookings Institution Press). He spent 21 years in politics, most notably as Foreign Minister from 1988 to 1996. In June 2008, he was appointed to co-chair (with former Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi) the International Commission of Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. He is a member of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Committee on Genocide Prevention.

“It is easy to be cynical about the power of ideas, but there are few that seem to have the potential to matter more for good than the responsibility to protect” - Gareth Evans