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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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Choosing how to intervene

From Iraq to Darfur, the topic of international intervention to protect people from the brutality of their own governments remains a deeply divisive one for the international community. Western countries are likely to be the subjects not objects of intervention, and their worldview is coloured by this simple fact. Developing countries are seen as being bitterly opposed to such interventions.

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