At the largest ever gathering of heads of state and government at the 2005 World Summit, world leaders endorsed the responsibility to protect, a framework for preventing and responding to genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
According to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, this commitment entails three mutually-reinforcing ‘pillars’ that stipulate that:
  1. Each State bears the primary responsibility to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.
  2. The international community has a responsibility to assist States in fulfilling this responsibility. 
  3. The international community has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means to protect populations from these crimes. Should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their population, the international community is prepared to take timely and decisive action, including the use of enforcement measures authorised by the United Nations Security Council,  to protect populations.