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The Responsibility to Protect: 'sound and fury signifying nothing'?

Hehir, Aidan (2010) The Responsibility to Protect: 'sound and fury signifying nothing'? International Relations, 24 (2). pp. 218-239. ISSN 0047-1178

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0047117809366205


The term ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) has dominated debate on humanitarian intervention since the publication in 2001 of the report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS). Today ‘R2P’ has become a seemingly obligatory reference point for all researchers in this field and R2P’s near ubiquity is testament to the effective marketing of the idea. This article will argue, however, that the currency of the term obscures its hollowness. R2P has undeniably changed the discourse surrounding humanitarian intervention, and possibly broadened interest in the subject, but it has contributed little of substance or prescriptive merit. Though the report was drafted with the mandate to reconcile international human rights with state sovereignty it fudged the key issues, namely, substantive reform of the United Nations Security Council, the legitimacy of unilateral humanitarian intervention and the threshold for intervention. The shift in focus from response to prevention since 2001 evades the key issue which prompted the ICISS to draft its report and fails to provide a viable or innovative approach.

Item Type:Article
Research Community:University of Westminster > Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages, School of
ID Code:8272
Deposited On:12 Jul 2010 14:16
Last Modified:12 Jul 2010 14:16

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