Norms of Protection

Responsibility to Protect, Protection of Civilians and their Interaction

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A series of humanitarian tragedies in the 1990s (Somalia, Rwanda, Srebrenica, Kosovo) demonstrated the failure of the international community to protect civilians in the context of complex emergencies. These brought to life two norms of protection – Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and Protection of Civilians (POC) – both deeply rooted in the empathy that human beings have for the suffering of innocent people. Both norms raise concerns of misinterpretation and misuse. They are developing – sometimes in parallel, sometimes diverging and sometimes converging – with varying degrees of institutionalization and acceptance. This book engages in a profound comparative analysis of the norms and aims to serve policy-makers at various levels; practitioners with protective roles; academics and researchers; civil society and R2P and POC advocates.



The responsibility to protect: Game change and regime change

In the short span of years since its inception the concept of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) has had a substantial yet controversial impact on international relations and efforts to protect populations from atrocities. This chapter overviews the nature and history of R2P before turning to consider the major critiques of the principle. It deals in detail with the important objection that R2P is a vehicle for regime change – a critique that has assumed a new urgency in the fallout over the NATO military action in Libya in 2011. This chapter argues that members of the UN Security Council (UNSC), and of the international community more generally, need to be realistic about the ways military intervention for protective purposes will inevitably have implications for incumbent regimes, but at the same time be sensitive to the ways protective intervention can be operationally separated from the deliberate pursuit of regime change.


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