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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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War vindicates UN stance

Are not the scenes of joy and jubilation from Iraq an embarrassing indictment of the United Nations’ failure to support the war? Well, no, not really. On the contrary, the course and outcome of the war is a strong vindication of the UN stance. To argue that military victory bestows legitimacy is to say that might is right. It also begs the question: will others politely accept the new US imperial order, or will they begin to arm and align themselves so as not to become tomorrow’s Iraq?

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