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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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How the legitimacy of US goals has been undermined by its war on Iraq

Washington had five claims for the war on Iraq: the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction; international terrorism; the need to establish a beachhead of democratic freedoms and the rule of law in the Middle East; the need to bring Saddam Hussein to justice; and the duty to be the international community’s enforcer. It is not clear that even now, the war protagonists appreciate how each goal has been badly undermined by the means chosen; nor the fact that their collective damage to the “Empire Lite” enterprise is greater than the sum of their separate parts.

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