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Are We Responsible? Responsibility to Protect in the Age of Atrocity


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About This Lesson

Are We Responsible?: Responsibility to Protect in the Age of Atrocity provides an opportunity to teach about the world’s commitment to protecting the human rights of all peoples.

Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is global political commitment stating that countries have a responsibility to protect not only their own populations, but all populations at risk of genocide and mass atrocities. In this lesson, students will consider where responsibility lies for preventing or stopping violence and the potential challenges faced by international actors when making decisions about intervention. 

This lesson provides opportunities to look at historical events and also to make connections to current events and global politics. Students will learn about the various actions that nations may take against other nations when there is evidence of mass atrocities and/or genocide. Students will work with a case study to highlight historical events and the many considerations at play. The lesson also includes testimony from survivors and witnesses, addresses from U.S. presidents, and other primary source documents to provide a fuller picture of these historical events. 


  • What responsibility does the international community have for preventing atrocities?
  • What is the relationship between sovereign states? 
  • What measures are available to prevent or intervene when mass atrocities occur?

At the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Define the Responsibility to Protect principle
  • Understand possible challenges related to intervention under R2P
  • Assess action (or inaction) of the international community related to R2P




Lesson Plan
May 20, 2022
2.91 MB


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