On the Limits of Moral Hazard: the Responsibility to Protect, Armed Conflict and Mass Atrocities
12 May 2011
Advocates of moral hazard theory argue that the ‘responsibility to protect’ causes genocidal violence that would not otherwise occur. After summarizing the main elements of the moral hazard approach, this article demonstrates that there is no empirical evidence to support the general claim that the ‘responsibility to protect’ is a remote cause of genocide. This is followed by an analysis of the conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo and Darfur which demonstrates that moral hazard does not provide a plausible account of the proximate causes of genocidal violence in these cases. We suggest that a major part of the explanation for why moral hazard theory performs so badly is its reductionist account of the dynamics of armed conflict and its simplistic understanding of the dynamics of provocation. (…)
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