Page last updated at 06:41 GMT, Wednesday, 23 April 2008 07:41 UK

Peace 'a responsibility for all'

By Guto Thomas
Political correspondent

Gareth Evans
Gareth Evans was Australian foreign minister for eight years

Former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans is calling for an end to the idea that a state's sovereignty is a licence to kill its own people.

David Davies Memorial Institute director Prof Nick Wheeler said it was a privilege to have Mr Evans deliver its annual lecture in Aberystwyth.

Mr Evans is president of the International Crisis Group.

He has played a key role in developing the concept of state responsibility to protect all people from violence.

In his speech on Wednesday Mr Evans will set out the case for a new approach to conflict resolution and examine the current status of the idea of the "responsibility to protect."

This concept was developed to help the international community to avoid any future situations where the world stood by in the face of genocide and mass killing, as in Cambodia in the 1970s - a situation Mr Evans denounces as a state's "licence to kill" its own people.

To yet again ignore that distress and agony, and to once again make 'never again' a cry that rings totally emptily, is to diminish that common humanity to the point of despair
Former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans

Mr Evans advocates the innate responsibility of all states to their people - and crucially that if individual states "cannot meet that responsibility, through either ill-will or incapacity, it then falls on the wider international community to take the appropriate action," including the use of force.

He will argue that a focus on protection rather than intervention means taking the perspective of victims, with the added responsibility of always trying to prevent these crises from occurring.

Having spent six months as a student travelling across Asia, Africa and the Middle East in the late 1960s, he recalls since meeting old friends and acquaintances from every country he visited except for Cambodia - leading to the conclusion that they were all killed under Pol Pot's regime.

Prof Wheeler said: "He has worked tirelessly and with great vision, both as a former foreign minister and now as the head of one of the world's leading NGOs (non-governmental organisations) in the field of international security, to promote a more peaceful world."

The David Davies Memorial Institute of International Studies forms part of the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University - concentrating its research on international trust-building, nuclear non-proliferation, international legitimacy and the responsibility to protect.

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