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18.7: The Responsibility to Protect (R2P)

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    In September, 2000, Canada announced the creation of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS). Its central concept, the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), acknowledges a primary responsibility of states to protect their own citizens. In the event of a failure to do so, the responsibility to protect reverts to the international community. The December 2001 ICISS Report embraces three specific responsibilities:

    • The responsibility to prevent the root causes and direct causes of internal conflict and other man-made crises putting populations at risk
    • The responsibility to react to situations of compelling human need with appropriate measures, which may include coercive measures like sanctions and international prosecution, and in extreme cases military intervention
    • The responsibility to rebuild, particularly after a military intervention. [8]

    While the ICISS Report calls upon states to seek approval for military intervention from the United Nations Security Council, it leaves ample room for extra-Council authorization for military intervention in the event that the Security Council fails to address the issue. Such alternative authorizations, accordingly, include the General Assembly of the United Nations and regional organizations.

    Several points of critique of the Responsibility to Protect should be noted. First, allowing states to militarily intervene to protect foreign nationals gravely undermines the non-intervention enshrined in the UN Charter. Referencing R2P allows states to sidestep the legal restrictions found in jus ad bellum rules. Second, R2P interventions can make a bad situation worse if the introduction of foreign military forces attracts domestic protest. Finally, there is a concern that the Responsibility to Protect will be used by major powers to contain Third World problems and prevent them from spilling over rather than using R2P to solve those problems.

    18.7: The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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