For keen followers of the United Nations (UN) security Council’s ongoing engagement with the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict (POC), a subtle but intriguing occurrence unfolded in the Council’s November 2011 open debate.1 Ten of the 15 Council members invoked the claim – referred to as R2PC – that it is the primary responsibility of the state to protect its civilians. Also, of the five member-states who did not assert R2PC in the November debate, three had recently asserted it in previous debates. Council members – and Council resolutions – often affirm that states have the primary responsibility for protecting their populations, or citizens, or individuals, or those within their territory or for ensuring the security or human rights of these groups. Why then should the increasing substitution of these catch-all terms with the term ‘civilians’ be worthy of remark, or portend anything more than a perhaps clumsy conflation of the Council’s POC and Responsibility to Protect (R2P) agendas? It is clear that the secretary-general of the UN is concerned by exactly such a possibility; in his most recent report on POC, he sharply censures ‘the continuing and unaccurate conflation’ of the two concepts. In response (inter alia) to the secretary-general’s censure, the most recent open debate – in July 2012 – saw a marked decline in assertions of R2PC.