• responsibility to protect;
  • United Nations;
  • sovereignty;
  • prevention;
  • peace operations;
  • genocide;
  • mass atrocities

Written prior to the release of the UN Secretary-General's report on implementing the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), this article examines the effort to translate the principle from words into deeds. It begins by noting a post-2005 “revolt” against the principle in which a number of states expressed skepticism about the principle and its use in different settings. This revolt, the article contends, was largely a product of the continuing association between R2P and humanitarian intervention. This association was, in turn, caused by a combination of misplaced commentary and the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty's focus on the intervention question. This article maintains that building consensus on the R2P requires a shift in emphasis and proposes three avenues: clarifying the nature of prevention, developing practical measures, and proposing modest proposals for institutional reform.