Book cover - The Responsibility to Protect: Growing Pains Or Early Promise?(Report) - Author Ethics & International Affairs

The Responsibility to Protect: Growing Pains Or Early Promise?(Report)

Author Ethics & International Affairs

  • Release Date: 2010-12-22
  • Genre: Politics & Current Events

The Responsibility to Protect: Growing Pains Or Early Promise?(Report) Summary


The Responsibility to Protect: Growing Pains Or Early Promise?(Report) - 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. Professor Bellamy, the author of one of the better books on RtoP, (3) comments on a series of humanitarian crises since 2005 in which he believes RtoP was either used too little (Somalia), used ineffectively (Darfur), or employed effectively (Kenya). He draws useful lessons from each. Such comparative studies remind us that the ability of RtoP to deliver has been (and will continue to be) mixed. There is no dispute about that. They also demonstrate, however, that it is a bit early in RtoP's young life to judge what it will be when it grows up as a mature policy tool. There is reason to question, as well, whether Somalia and Darfur are the best tests of RtoP's potential.

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