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.



The growing threats to human rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed on 10 December 1948, transformed an aspiration into legally binding standards and spawned a raft of institutions to scrutinize government conformity and condemn noncompliance. It remains the central organizing principle of global human rights and a source of power and authority on behalf of victims. Numerous UN conventions, declarations and protocols produced the progressive result of universalizing human rights. They are our “firewalls against barbarism” (Michael Ignatieff).


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