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.



In selecting new UN secretary-general, leadership most important factor

This year’s UN agenda will be dominated by the choice of the next secretary- general who, under the convention of regional rotation, should be Asian. Choosing the best available candidate is a good principle, like the one that would impose two-term restrictions on chief executives of all international organizations (which the UN University follows). Washington’s and London’s pursuit of this noble course would have been more credible if the same principle had been followed in choosing the World Bank and International Monetary Fund chiefs instead of a cosy gentlemen’s agreement that sees these divided between Americans and Europeans.


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