1st Edition

Responding to Mass Atrocities in Africa Protection First and Justice Later

By Raymond Kwun-Sun Lau Copyright 2022
    256 Pages
    by Routledge

    256 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book explores the relationship between the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and the International Criminal Court (ICC), challenging the assumption that they are always mutually reinforcing or complementary, and examining instead the many tensions which arise between the immediate imperative of saving lives, and the more long-term prospect of punishing perpetrators and preventing future conflicts through deterrence.

    Around the world, audiences in the mid-1990s watched the mass atrocities unfolding in Rwanda and Srebrenica in horror and disbelief. Emerging from these disasters came an international commitment to safeguard and protect vulnerable communities, as laid out in the R2P principle, and an international responsibility to punish perpetrators, with the establishment of the ICC. The book provides context-independent proposals for resolving contradictions between the two principles, suggesting that focusing on timing and sequencing in invoking international R2P and ICC actions could facilitate the easing of tensions. Drawing on examples from Uganda, Kenya, and Darfur, the book applies International Relations concepts and theories in order to deepen our understanding of international responses to mass atrocities. Ultimately the book concludes that a 'Protection First, Justice Later' sequence approach is necessary for managing the tension and facilitating more effective and consistent international responses.

    This book makes an important contribution to discussions and debates surrounding international responses to genocide and mass atrocities. It will be of special interest to scholars, students and policymakers in International Relations, Global Governance, African Studies, International Development, Human Rights and International Criminal Law.

    Chapter 1: Introduction

    Chapter 2: Protection of civilians and the Responsibility to Protect

    Chapter 3: International Criminal Justice and the Responsibility to Punish

    Chapter 4: Protection and Punishment in responding to mass atrocities

    Chapter 5: Northern Uganda

    Chapter 6: Darfur

    Chapter 7 Kenya

    Chapter 8: Conclusion


    Born and raised in Hong Kong, Raymond Kwun-Sun Lau holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Queensland, Australia. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and Sociology at North South University (NSU), Bangladesh. His teaching and research interests include international relations after 1945, international comparative studies of genocide and mass atrocities, the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and humanitarian intervention, African studies and Africa-China relations, Chinese foreign policy and Hong Kong politics.


    "Only thirty years ago issues about protecting civilians caught up in internal wars (including those waged by governments against their own people) and prosecuting war criminals would have never received much of an attention. The need for a deeper understanding of this matter was an afterthought. This volume by Raymond Kwun Sun Lau is an illustration of how far we have come. The author is among the emerging scholars in this field today. He has previously made outstanding contributions in expanding our knowledge with his comparative insight in US policy towards Liberia and West Africa. In this book, Dr. Lau brilliantly analyzes the relationship between R2P and the ICC from a theoretical, comparative and historical perspective, with the help of specific case studies from Uganda, Kenya and Darfur, Sudan. This book should be of great interest to policymakers and peace-keepers as well as graduate students and researchers in the field of International Relations and African Studies." – Seifudein Adem, Professor of Global Studies, Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan