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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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US considers UN approval of force optional

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was recently reported as having participated in discussions on a possible US-organized standing international peacekeeping force outside the auspices of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the United Nations. The idea would need to overcome deep-seated scepticism within the US Army, which tends to view peacekeeping as a distraction from its real job of war fighting, and among other countries reluctant to participate in such operations outside the comforting umbrella of the United Nations and NATO.

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