Int'l Communities Moderately Effective in Upholding Responsibility to Protect

International communities are moderately effective in upholding the Responsibility to Protect. Responsibility to Protect is an international security and human rights doctrine that expresses the responsibility of nation states to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The principle of Responsibility to Protect declares that if a sovereign state is grossly hindering its citizens from obtaining basic humanitarian rights, the international community has a responsibility to protect its civilians, overriding state sovereignty. However the collective response' pillar of Responsibility to Protect severely constrains the achievement of word order.

Following the horrendous ramifications of the Rwandan conflict, the restrictions of the Geneva Conventions in achieving a stable world order gave rise to the United Nations Responsibility to Protect. If a sovereign nation state fails to uphold the three pillars of the responsibility to protect their own people, the international community then has the responsibility to protect the citizens by offering guidance. The international community can only intervene if the government is grossly failing to uphold humanitarian laws.

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These situations inlcude systematic torture, rape or genocide. Such heinous crimes call for collective action, the final pillar of responsibility to protect, which means the whole international community must address nations manifestly failing to protect its civilians, one country cannot intervene on its own. While the United Nation's Responsibility to Protect appears moderately effective in the promotion of global peace and security, various limitations severely restrict this ideal. Regardless of the United Nations efforts in achieving a stable world order through the Responsibility to Protect, immense limitations permeate this principle.

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The foremost of these are state sovereignty and collective response. State sovereignty performs as a stern barrier inhibiting the effectiveness of Responsibility to Protect, as an oppressive government will not accept assistance from the international community, as demonstrated in the Assad government. Additionally, the debate amongst the global community questioning to what extent state had failed to protect its citizens means innocent people are suffering whilst the international community decides whether or not to take action, this was failure to protect was demonstrated in the Rwandan genocide. While the Responsibility to Protect provides a sense of global security and peace, it is restricted in its effectiveness due to its delays in responding to colossal threats to a stable world order, as illustrated in the intra-state conflict between Sudan and Darfur. Therefore, while the responsibility to protect has promoted global peace and security, manifest restrictions hinders its effectiveness in achieving world order, particularly if the UNSC is divided over deciding on an appropriate response.Positives- if a state manifestly fails to protect its citizens and peaceful measures have failed, the international community has the responsibility to intervene through coercive measures such as economic sanctions and as a last resort military intervention. One of the most debated cases in recent years with regard to the issue of justified military intervention for the protection of the lives of citizens was the situation in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999. The Serbian government began carrying out ethnic cleansing of Albanians in Kosovo, which led states in the United Nations to advocate a military intervention in Serbia. However, with Russa, a strong ally to Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia, on the Security Council, they had the ability to veto any military action. Thus, unable to carry out a military intervention with United Nation Security Council approval, countries such as the United States bypassed the UN and used international organisations such as NATO for the intervention. Overall, it has been argued that the concept of Responsibility to Protect is effective when the United Nations has failed to uphold their principle of preventing wars and fulfilling peacekeeping duties. In 2011, Russia abstained in the chapter VII vote for military intervention in Libya and the mass human rights abuses occurring in the nation state. NATO intervened on behalf of the West and supported the rebel's efforts to overthrow Gadaffi. NATO were sent to end the Gadaffi regime however attacked Libyan forces indiscriminately, this was commended by the international community as an effective means to end oppression. Although Responsibility to Protect was previously invoked to highlight individual states responsibility to protect, this marked the first time since Darfur that the UNSC explicitly invoked the doctrine to authorise the international community to conduct an armed intervention to protect civilians. As the operation ended with the death of Gaddafi and the fall of his regime, the Libyan transitional government urged NATO to stay in Libya until the end of the year but NATO ended the operation claiming that the transitional council was able to handle security threat on its own. The nature of the intervention and the instability that has followed the fall of the Gaddafi regime, a legal journal Lessons from Libya: How Not to Intervene by Alan Kuperman suggested that NATO intervention may have increased harm to Libyans to overthrow Gaddafi, Kupperman stated If libya was not a model' intervention, then it was a model of failure. The death toll was estimated to be over 7,000 . The UN must address the failure of Responsibility to Protect in Libya and highlight the responsibilities of countries to not only react to mass atrocities but also prevent, rebuild and respect the foundational principle of sovereignty on which the UN Charter rests. Responsibility to Protect has been criticised that it creates a moral outrage and hysteria, and a dangerous western right to intervene through humanitarian interventions often concealing the true strategic aim, thus becoming another name for proxy war. It has been significantly watered down as it was evident during the Libyan crisis in 2011, when regime change, rather than civilian protection and moral principles, was a priority. Additionally, in the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 by the United States (US) led coalition, humanitarian justifications played a critical role in the military interventions of Iraq. Following Osama Bin Laden's September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre buildings in America, the fight against terrorism was utilised. Within the video titled President Bush Announces the start of Iraq war in March 2005, President George Bush Jr decided to utilize the principles of Responsibility to Protect to invade Iraq under various pretexts including the perception of removing threats to America's global peace and security, removing Iraq's alledged weapons of mass, to end Saddam Hussien's support for terrorism and to free the Iraqi people . The American citizens were told by President Bush Jr and his administration that the US were going to war with Iraq because of the imminent threat that Saddam's Hussien possess weapons of mass destrcution and his ties to terrorism. UN Resolution 1483 attempted to legitimise the invasion that was carried out under that false assertion by the US and the UK. The intervention and regime change sought by the US left Iraq with civil and economic instability and vulnerbale to terrorism. America has been criticised for utilizing the concept of Responsibility to Protect to benefit the self interest of their nation state. Unless humanitarian interventions are partly rooted in self interest, intervening states may lack the political commitment to complete the tasks they undertake. On the other hand, self interested motivations make Responsibility to protect interventions inherently prone to having their legitimacy called into question.

Updated: May 03, 2023
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Int'l Communities Moderately Effective in Upholding Responsibility to Protect. (2019, Aug 20). Retrieved from

Int'l Communities Moderately Effective in Upholding Responsibility to Protect essay
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