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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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Governments have responsibility to protect people

Australian businessman Stern Hu has been convicted of taking bribes and stealing state secrets and sentenced to 10 years’ jail in China. International standards of a free and fair trial do not seem to have been met. Did the Rudd Government do all within its powers to help him? Did the Howard government do enough, and early enough, to help Australian citizen David Hicks who was caught up in the nightmare of Guantánamo?

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