15 December 2008
Carlo Focarelli is an international law professor at Perugia University and Rome University in Italy.
The question about possible remedies, including military intervention, to avoid or to put an end to massive violations of human rights committed by a state towards its own citizens or in situations where state authorities critically lack effectiveness has been extensively debated since the issuance in 2001 of the report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) on the responsibility to protect. After a succinct and critical review of the ICISS report and the subsequent international instruments dealing with the responsibility to protect, this contribution focuses on the positions adopted by states, especially over the last three years at the General Assembly and at the Security Council of the United Nations on humanitarian intervention as a corollary of the responsibility to protect doctrine. () Given its extreme and multifaceted ambiguity, which is discussed in the last section of this contribution, the innovative content of the purported emerging norm on the responsibility to protect, as well as its prospect to emerge in the future, remain rather unclear.