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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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Kosovo’s lessons in racism

When US President Bill Clinton declares that the bombs will continue to rain down on Serbia until peace and harmony prevail, the unintended irony echoes another war that he opposed and avoided. In a speech at Johns Hopkins University in April 1965, US President Lyndon B. Johnson declared that for centuries nations had struggled but held fast to the dream “of a world where disputes are settled by law and reason”. This was a very old dream, he said. “But we have the power, and now we have the opportunity to make it come true.”

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