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The People vs. The State

Reflections on UN Authority, US Power and the Responsibility to Protect

image of The People vs. The State
Responsibility to Protect (R2P) aims to convert international conscience into timely and decisive collective action to rescue vulnerable communities. The choice is not whether international interventions will take place but where, when, how and under whose authority. Given the nature and victims of modern armed conflict, protection of civilians and populations at risk of mass atrocities is a core United Nations imperative. But while the UN has international authority, it lacks military power. Although its military might well have unmatched global reach, the United States acting unilaterally lacks international authority. This publication argues that progress towards good international society requires that force be harnessed to authority as the R2P moves from a universally validated principle to a routinely actionable norm.

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Partnerships for humanitarian crises

The number of refugees, displaced people and others of concern to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) jumped from under 15 million in 1990 to over 22 million in 2000: a 50 per cent increase over the decade. Refugees are a symptom of a deeper malaise in the polities from which they have fled. The failure to establish satisfactory coping mechanisms is a symptom of a deeper malaise afflicting the world. The treatment meted out to refugees by the host countries – including the entire infrastructure of laws, regulations, administrative practices and personnel – separates a civilized from an uncivilized society.

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