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.



Next word on intervention

The 1990s was a decade of conscience-shocking atrocities in Rwanda, the Balkans and East Timor. Unilateral actions by India and Vietnam to end atrocities in the 1970s had drawn international opprobrium and condemnation. The crises of the 1990s provoked agonized soul-searching on how to reconcile a newly energized international conscience with clashing principles of world order that privileged sovereignty over intervention.


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