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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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Burma and the responsibility to protect: First, do more good than harm

Paranoid and mistrustful of the outside world, Burma’s generals were criminally tardy in permitting emergency humanitarian supplies and personnel to come into the country after a devastating cyclone in early May. More than 100,000 may have been killed and over 2 million displaced and made homeless by the cyclone. Casualty figures should always be treated with caution in such contexts as they are easily inflated or downsized for partisan purposes, and already the indications are that the consequences were less grim than initially feared.

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