One of the widely declared successes of the September World Summit at the United Nations was the leaders' endorsement of the doctrine of "the responsibility to protect" (R2P). Because the Summit failed so spectacularly on other key issues, notably Security Council reform and nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, and given the prominent opposition of the United States and other influential states such as China, Egypt, India, and Russia to enshrining R2P as a legal obligation that extends to the international community, what emerged was a partial but welcome step toward recognizing the right of vulnerable people to protection.
It is tempting to find comfort in the Summit's formulation--that is, in its insistence that the international community has an obligation to use peaceful means to protect vulnerable people, but that it has no obligation to engage in the coercive measures authorized under Chapter VII when peace is shattered by the egregious abuse of large numbers of vulnerable people. However, the commitment to peaceful means was not matched by a commensurate commitment from states to provide the resources needed for those peaceful means to be effective in preventing extreme abuse or in rescuing people and rebuilding after abuse . Furthermore, the failure to oblige the Security Council to act under Chapter VII in prescribed circumstances allows the Security Council to continue to act purely at its own discretion, with the obvious likelihood that it will continue to give priority to its own interests and convenience rather than to meeting the needs and rights of those in peril.