NOREF – The Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts and Brazil’s “Responsibility While Protecting”

Eduarda Passarelli Hamann
October 2012

Brazil wishes to contribute to one of the most challenging contemporary international peace and security debates: how to effectively protect civilians affected by armed conflict or, in worse cases, populations who are deliberately targeted by armed groups. This policy brief sheds light on the Brazil’s positions on the protection of civilians (PoC) and the “responsibility to protect” (R2P), indicating that the country has defined a comprehensive approach in which international law plays a key role in limiting and guiding collective action. Recent debates, including in the United Nations Security Council, have suggested an existing relationship between PoC and R2P, but the depth and extent of this relationship still need to be further analysed. “Responsibility while protecting” (RwP) – the new approach proposed by Brazil in late 2011 – and its follow-up debate may constitute an innovative and legitimate bridge between the two doctrines. RwP recovers the existing principles, rules and parameters of international humanitarian law – valid for PoC – and presents them as the starting point of a more responsible role for the international community when using force to protect populations.


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