Who is responsible for protecting people from gross violations of human rights?
Emergence of the concept
Debating the right to "humanitarian intervention" (1990s)
Following the tragedies in Rwanda and the Balkans in the 1990s, the international community began to seriously debate how to react effectively when citizens’ human rights are grossly and systematically violated. The question at the heart of the matter was whether States have unconditional sovereignty over their affairs or whether the international community has the right to intervene in a country for humanitarian purposes.
In his Millennium Report of 2000, then Secretary-General Kofi Annan, recalling the failures of the Security Council to act in a decisive manner in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, put forward a challenge to Member States: "If humanitarian intervention is, indeed, an unacceptable assault on sovereignty, how should we respond to a Rwanda, to a Srebrenica, to gross and systematic violation of human rights that offend every precept of our common humanity?"