Towards Normative Consensus on Responsibility to Protect
Griffith Law Review (2007) Vol.16 No.1
Responsibility to protect (R2P) is a concept advanced by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, and the theme of The Responsibility to Protect Report (2001). It is based on the argument that states, and failing them the international community, have the responsibility to protect the human dignity and rights of people everywhere.
The incremental normative consensus attained by the R2P concept is revealed by paras 138–39 in the Outcome Statement of the UN 2005 General Assembly Summit, and is reaffirmed in UN Security Council Resolution 1674. Security Council Resolution 1706 called for the deployment of UN peacekeepers in Darfur by applying, for the first time, the R2P principle to a particular context.
This essay begins by outlining the background to the R2P norm. Second, the etymology of R2P is addressed. Third, a life-cycle analysis contextualises R2P as an emerging international norm. Fourth, the crucial role played by civil society organisations is outlined. Finally, the operationalisation of the R2P norm is discussed with respect to the Darfur humanitarian tragedy.
In the light of this and past conscience-shocking mass human rights violations, our common humanity demands that the R2P three key elements should prevail over statist values and interests. Ultimately, state practice will enable the ripening of R2P into a rule of customary international law and an effective instrument for the protection of human dignity and rights.
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