UN General Assembly Resolution on the responsibility to protect (24 October 2005)
Date of publication: 24/10/2005
The General Assembly Resolution of 24 October 2005 A/RES/60/1 adopting the outcome of the 2005 World Summit contains paragraphs two paragraphs (there are 178 in total) outlining the doctrine known as "responsibility to protect" or R2P.
Although the reference to R2P is glancing and has since been heavily nuanced in theory and practice by states which oppose it, this document remains the founding legal document of the doctrine. The key paragraphs in the document are 138 and 139, especially the latter which explicitly evokes the possibility of Chapter VII powers being invoked by the Security Council to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
This resolution generated further documents including a Report by the Secretary-General (12 January 2009), a further GA resolution and a small number of Security Council ones.
The relevant paragraph reads as follows (with the key sentence underlined here):
"The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with ChaptersVI and VIII of the Charter, to help to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for the General Assembly to continue consideration of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter and international law. We also intend to commit ourselves, as necessary and appropriate, to helping States build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and to assisting those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out."
It was largely in the name of this resolution that the Libyan campaign was fought in 2011 although the General Assembly of the United Nations was never involved in the procedure which led to Security Council Resolution 1973 being voted.
The full text of the document can be read on the UN web site here.