f_0018632_15956 - Rethinking the Responsibility to Protect...

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Rethinking the Responsibility to Protect by Alan J. Kuperman O ne of the most recent innovations of institutional liberalism in international politics is the so-called Responsibility to Protect. Defined in 2001 by an international commission established by Canada, this emerging norm challenges the Westphalian tradition by arguing that sovereignty is neither absolute nor an entitlement of statehood, but rather a privilege that states may earn only by protecting their people. Moreover, if a state refuses to protect its people, or intentionally harms some of them, the international community has not merely the right, but the responsibility, to violate that state’s traditional sovereignty to protect the at-risk population—if necessary, through military intervention. As with many aspects of institutional liberalism, however, this noble principle has faltered in practice. Most obviously, as Darfur illustrates, the international community lacks the political will for the collective action necessary to protect vulnerable citizens. But even if the international community could muster the requisite political will, humanitarian intervention would remain bedeviled by two substantial obstacles—the logistical requirements of effective intervention and the perverse unintended consequences that result from moral hazard. Based on recent experience, the Responsibility to Protect not only often fails to achieve its goal of protecting at-risk civilians, but it may also unintentionally put others in danger. Even though the doctrine is quite new, it already requires a major rethinking if it is to promote its intended purpose of maximizing protection for innocent civilians. T HE E MERGING N ORM The norm of humanitarian intervention has emerged since the end of the Cold War, which broke the logjam in the UN Security Council and freed major powers to focus on more altruistic objectives. 1 The first case was in northern Iraq in April 1991, when a failed Kurdish rebellion sparked retaliation by Saddam Hussein’s army, imperiling hundreds of thousands. The United States spearheaded a military intervention that protected civilians in several ways: by deterring ground attacks, facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid, and preventing aerial attacks with a no- fly zone. Over the next four years, the international community launched similar high-profile humanitarian military interventions, of varying effectiveness, in Dr. Alan J. Kuperman is an Associate Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and a Senior Fellow at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law. 19
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course INTERNATIO 101 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '09 term at Boise State.

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f_0018632_15956 - Rethinking the Responsibility to Protect...

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