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The Responsibility to Protect Indigenous Peoples? An Analysis of R2P’s Potential Application in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh

Halliwell, Shayna

“The atrocity crimes that stain humanity’s conscience make it imperative that leaders transform R2P (Responsibility to Protect) from a vital principle into visible practice.” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made this statement in an informal dialogue on the Responsibility to Protect—frequently abbreviated to R2P or RtoP—on the occasion of the principle’s tenth anniversary in September of 2015. According to its supporters, this concept has achieved major, tangible successes since it was adopted in paragraphs 138–140 of the World Summit Outcome Document in 2005. However, the norm’s applications and its sheer existence have not been devoid of controversies. To test whether R2P could be applicable in situations of violence against Indigenous Peoples, this contribution will first outline the history of the development of R2P and will discuss the literature around its normative elements. This chapter will use the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a normative framework through which I will assess the Indigenous right to self-determination as it pertains to mass atrocity prevention and intervention in Indigenous communities. Using the case study of the Indigenous Peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, I will then analyze whether R2P could be an appropriate international humanitarian intervention mechanism in conflicts victimizing Indigenous Peoples. I will conclude with an assessment of how R2P could be better shaped to address situations of mass atrocities involving Indigenous Peoples, and how this paradigm shift may affect future iterations of the Responsibility to Protect as an evolving norm.


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More Information

Published In
Indigenous Peoples' Rights and Unreported Struggles: Conflict and Peace
122 - 154
Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University
Publication Origin
New York
Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights


This is a chapter from "Indigenous Peoples' Rights and Unreported Struggles: Conflict and Peace". The entire volume is available in Academic Commons at

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