The Responsibility to Protect: Growing Pains or Early Promise?

| December 2010
Facebook Twitter Email
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The ever-expanding literature on the responsibility to protect (RtoP) could now fill a small library. The number of graduate theses alone devoted to the topic has been nothing less than staggering. RtoP’s contribution to both conceptual thought and policy planning concerning how to prevent genocide and other mass atrocities, therefore, is beyond question. But RtoP was not envisioned as an academic or planning exercise. Nine years after the principle was first articulated by the independent International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) and five years after it was refined and adopted by the 2005 World Summit, 1 some are beginning to ask whether, where, and how the concept has made a difference in terms of international and state policy and, more important, in terms of preventing such horrific crimes in the first place. Understandably, many of these early assessments are skeptical. As the official charged with developing the conceptual, political, and institutional elements of RtoP for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, I have followed this growing assessment literature with keen attention. One of the more thoughtful and constructive contributions to this genre appeared in a recent volume of this journal.2 In ”The Responsibility to Protect—Five Years On,” Alex J. Bellamy provides a balanced, cogent, and—as the following suggests—provocative analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of RtoP as a policy tool.


To read or purchase the full text of this article, click here.

Facebook Twitter Email

Category: Issue 24.4, Response

Comments are closed.