The Responsibility to Protect and the Refugee Crisis: How Should Europe Respond?

Exploring the relevance of the responsibility to protect (R2P) for the current refugee crisis emanating from the Middle East.

School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds

This workshop is part of a project entitled ‘The Responsibility to Protect in the Context of the Continuing “War on Terror”: A Study of Liberal Interventionism and the Syrian Crisis’, funded by Research Councils UK as part of its ‘Rights and Ethics in a Security Context’ call (grant number ES/L013355/1).


Confirmed speakers include Professor James Pattison (University of Manchester), Professor Richard Beardsworth (University of Aberystwyth), Dr Dan Bulley (Queen’s University Belfast), Professor Edward Newman (University of Leeds), and Dr Alise Coen (University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan).

The workshop is being organised by Dr James Souter (University of Leeds), with assistance from members of the Leeds R2P Student Coalition.

Places are limited, and will be distributed on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. There is no cost for attendance. To register, please e-mail

About the Workshop

The purpose of this workshop is to explore the relevance of the responsibility to protect (R2P) for the current refugee crisis emanating from the Middle East. The ongoing Syrian civil war is largely seen as an arena in which R2P has failed to date, with the international community and individual states having failed to coordinate effective action in response to atrocities committed by its various parties, including Islamic State, which has also seized territory within Iraq. With an end to hostilities appearing remote, the resulting refugee crisis – although borne disproportionately by neighbouring countries – is now also significantly impacting upon European states.

This workshop will ask whether, and in what ways, R2P needs to be creatively and pragmatically reiterated so it can effectively protect those at risk from atrocities in Syria and Iraq. R2P has generally been seen, at least as far as international action under ‘Pillar 3’ is concerned, as a general and diffuse responsibility that is borne by international society as a whole. It has also largely been regarded as a foreign policy issue, in isolation from states’ asylum policies.

The problem with this is that often this responsibility is not met, as those capable of fulfilling their R2P do not see it as their particular responsibility, and the absence of intervention is taken as representing a failure of R2P, when in fact states have other means of fulfilling it at their disposal. The workshop will examine how the responsibility to protect may be distributed among states, and what roles asylum, refugee protection and refugee responsibility-sharing may play in meeting the demands of R2P.

Location Details

School of Politics and International Studies
University of Leeds

The Social Sciences Building is number 82 on the campus map.

  • There is limited car-parking available on campus on a first come, first serve basis with a charge of £5.00.
  • Parking spaces are available on campus for blue badge holders. Please contact 0113 343 5491 or for further details.