By: John Boonstra on February 22, 2008 An important step toward entrenching a bold new international norm to prevent mass atrocities, as reported by the UN News Centre: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Edward Luck of the United States as his Special Adviser with a focus on the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Currently Vice President and Director of Studies of the International Peace Academy and Director of Columbia University’s Center on International Organizations, Mr. Luck will serve at the Assistant Secretary-General level on a part-time basis. Agreed to by world leaders in 2005, the responsibility to protect holds States responsible for shielding their own populations from genocide and other major human rights abuses and requires the international community to step in if this obligation is not met. Mr. Luck’s appointment represents a crucial first step in shifting the paradigm that allows abusive regimes to massacre their own populations. While R2P was adopted unanimously by the General Assembly, it still faces stiff opposition in practice, and Mr. Luck will have an uphill battle toward implementing it. He must assure skeptics that R2P does not simply provide a carte blanche for intervention while simultaneously ensuring that the doctrine possesses sufficient teeth to change dictators’ behavior. With his background working on issues of peacekeeping and UN reform, Mr. Luck seems to understand the need to balance the interests of individual Member States with the imperative of broad international goals. The importance of the responsibility to protect cannot be understated, and Mr. Luck deserves our full support in his efforts to make this bold new theory a reality.