Yes We Can? Options and Barriers to Broadening the Scope of the Responsibility to Protect to Include Cases of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Abuse

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This report explores the environment of human rights standards from which the R2P has in part emerged, and which are necessary to understand its potential of development. It assesses opportunities and obstacles to the broadening of its scope, including to situations such as gross and systematic violations of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR). To do this the text first analyses the nature and role played by standards of due diligence in widening the level of responsibilities of the state to respect, protect and fulfil human rights. It then examines the current definition of Crimes against Humanity (CAH) which is increasingly dissociated from circumstances of armed conflict, and the options for enlarging the scope of the R2P beyond the use in the context of armed conflict.

The report concludes that an outright rejection of the use of the R2P doctrine in cases beyond armed conflict is inconsistent with the wider relevant developments in international law. In particular when looking at the R2P from the angle of standards of due diligence the doctrine has strong potentials to serve as a basis for the international community to address cases of systematic and widespread neglect of duty of care by governments, not as a challenge to their sovereignty but as a complementing element in the chain of responsibilities of a global governance system that seeks to be accountable to people for the delivery of public goods, access and enjoyment of human rights, both civil and political, and economic, social and cultural.

Importantly, however, given the strong concerns that some states have with respect to the question of the use of force under the doctrine, the report re-emphasises that any decisions about the use of force under the doctrine should always remain a matter of last resort, decided upon by due process, and heavily context specific.