The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) release their report the Responsibility to Protect. According to the Commission, “external military intervention for humanitarian protection purposes has been controversial both when it has happened — as in Somalia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo — and when it has failed to happen, as in Rwanda”. The Commission identified a responsibility to prevent, a responsibility to react and a responsibility to rebuild, posing a continuum of graduated policy instruments across that spectrum.
The release of the report was overshadowed by the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 on New York and Washington DC, in response to which the Commission wrote that the Report “has not been framed to guide the policy of states when faced with attack on their own nationals, or the nationals of other states residing within their borders” The Report found that: “Where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect. … The foundations of the responsibility to protect, as a guiding principle for the international community of states, lie in:
- Obligations inherent in the concept of sovereignty;
- The responsibility of the Security Council, under Article 24 of the UN Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security….”
The Report went on to list a set of recommendations to improve the workings of the UNSC including calling on the P5 to agree not to apply their veto power in matters where their vital state interests are not involved, to obstruct the passage of resolutions authorizing military intervention for human protection purposes for which there is otherwise majority support. It also set out alternative options such as use of the Uniting for Peace procedure and action by regional or sub-regional organizations with subsequent authorization from the UNSC.