The People vs. The State

Reflections on UN Authority, US Power and the Responsibility to Protect

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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.




There are few more important challenges to our common humanity than mass atrocity crimes. There are few issues on which the international community has moved faster towards achieving positive change. And there are few individuals who have contributed more to that process than Ramesh Thakur. This book, bringing together his many published opinion pieces on the subject, often passionately argued, always carefully crafted, and invariably stimulating – whether or not one agrees with him on particular issues – is a storehouse of evidence for all three propositions.


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