Preventing Mass Atrocities: From a Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) to a Right to Assist (RtoA) Campaigns of Civil Resistance

1 October 2019
In a recent report, the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC)  proposes a new normative framework called the Right to Assist (RtoA).

The authors propose that the RtoA, which would move away from R2P’s state-centric approach, would allow civil society organizations, states and multilateral institutions to incentivize local opposition groups to remain committed to nonviolent strategies, thus reducing the probability of civil war and atrocities.

The authors of the report propose five avenues of possible assistance:

  1. Provide public education about civil resistance;
  2. Build the capacity for civil resistance campaigns;
  3. Mitigate the impact of repression to civil disobedience, e.g. in the form of strike funds or legal support;
  4. Raise the cost of repression by “naming and shaming” alleged perpetrators, deploy unarmed civilian protection or implement sanctions;
  5. For campaigns that seek political transitions, encourage opposition groups to unify around common goals, open up back channels and assist in stabilizing the nation both economically and politically in the post-transition phase.

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