25 March 2008

One of only five centres dedicated to protecting civilians from crimes against humanity has been established at The University of Queensland.

The Asia-Pacific Centre for Responsibility to Protect (AP-R2P) represents an important new stage in the effort to rid the world of genocide and mass atrocities.

Launched in February by Dr Edward Luck, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General, the new Centre will be led by prominent international relations expert Professor Alex Bellamy from the School of Political Science and International Studies.

“The R2P principle states that all countries have a primary responsibility to protect their citizens from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. When a country manifestly fails to prevent and end unconscionable acts of violence, the international community shares a collective responsibility to respond,” Professor Bellamy said.

The centre will play a key leadership role in engaging the Asia-Pacific region, uniting politicians, government agencies, academics and NGOs to develop peacekeeping and early intervention initiatives.

“The Asia-Pacific region needs an early warning system to prevent humanitarian crises. The centre will act as a regional hub and will form part of the global effort to rebuild shattered societies after episodes of death and destruction,” Professor Bellamy said.

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences Executive Dean Professor Cindy Gallois said the establishment of the centre was appropriate recognition of UQ’s rapidly growing reputation in the area.

"The centre will enhance our capacity to collaborate with other academic institutions and major global institutions," Professor Gallois said.

"The R2P Centre is further evidence that good social science research is about engaging in major issues that affect humanity and using our knowledge and expertise to make a positive difference."

AP-R2P has among its patrons former President of the Philippines and member of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, Fidel Ramos, and President of the International Crisis group and Co-Chair of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, Gareth Evans.

Professor Bellamy is a recipient of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia award for early career research excellence. He has written ten books and published over forty articles in leading international journals in the areas of peace and conflict studies, international relations and terrorism.

Media: Professor Alex Bellamy on 07 3365 3301 or a.bellamy@uq.edu.au