The Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) was developed as a doctrine to prevent mass atrocities (genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity). Offering an important exception to the principle of nonintervention, it relies on the UN Security Council to authorize its most aggressive provisions such as armed intervention. Despite its initial promise, a decade of practice has revealed that RtoP can easily be curtailed by the objections of UN member states.
The world needs new approaches to atrocity prevention that are adaptable, innovative and independent of a state-centered doctrine. With the aim of reducing risk factors such as civil war, we argue for a new normative framework called The Right to Assist (RtoA), which would strengthen international coordination and support for nonviolent civil resistance campaigns demanding rights, freedom and justice against non-democratic rule.