This paper will explore how the Protection Cluster, as part of the new United Nations led cluster approach in emergency environments, can serve to implement the international community’s responsibility to protect civilians in the field and will make a policy recommendation to ensure the international community is better able to carry this responsibility out and fulfill it. The paper is divided into five sections: first, tracing the emergence and content of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) framework and its burgeoning acceptance as an international norm; second, the development of the cluster approach and the Protection Cluster as a means for improving the international community’s protection response on the ground; third, a review and analysis of how the implementation of the Protection Cluster on a pilot basis in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has started to implement the R2P framework in the field as well as some challenges it faces in providing adequate protection response; fourth, a policy recommendation to the UN to institutionalize the international community’s responsibility to protect citizens in the field by mandating the Protection Cluster with the responsibility to protect directly according to the R2P framework, with specific actions recommended for a new leadership structure and guidelines to make this a reality; and last, a conclusion on what this policy with the new structure and guidelines could mean, if heeded and instituted, for the international community’s ability to protect citizens in complex emergencies around the world as well as today’s major obstacle hindering this from becoming reality.
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