Raymond Kwun-Sun LauMay 5, 2022
Responding to Mass Atrocities in Africa
Protection First and Justice Later
Around the world, audiences in the mid-1990s watched the mass atrocities unfolding in Rwanda and Srebrenica in horror and disbelief. Emerging from these disasters came an international commitment to safeguard and protect vulnerable communities, as laid out in the R2P principle, and an international responsibility to punish perpetrators, with the establishment of the ICC. Raymond Kwun-Sun Lau's book Responding to Mass Atrocities in Africa: Protection First and Justice Later (Routledge, 2021) provides context-independent proposals for resolving contradictions between the two principles, suggesting that focusing on timing and sequencing in invoking international R2P and ICC actions could facilitate the easing of tensions. Drawing on examples from Uganda, Kenya, and Darfur, the book applies International Relations concepts and theories in order to deepen our understanding of international responses to mass atrocities. Ultimately the book concludes that a 'Protection First, Justice Later' sequence approach is necessary for managing the tension and facilitating more effective and consistent international responses.
Christopher P. Davey is Visiting Assistant Professor at Clark University's Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.