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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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North—South fault line in global politics

On 28 April developing countries voted as a group at the United Nations to shelve management reforms proposed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in the wake of the oil-for-food scandal. Annan had requested more discretion and latitude in hiring, shifting and firing his staff, and controlling the organization’s resources. The developing countries first want many more clarifications and reassurances.

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