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Sovereignty as Normative Decoy in the R2P Challenge to the Charter of the United Nations

In: Global Responsibility to Protect
Authors:
Shirley V. Scott UNSW Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Australia, s.scott@unsw.edu.au

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Roberta C. Andrade UNSW Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Australia, r.andrade@unsw.edu.au

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The Responsibility to Protect (R2P), touted in 2009 as ‘the most dramatic normative development of our time’, is highly contentious, having generated a scholarly literature far greater than its real-world impact would seem to warrant. This may well be because of its potential to challenge and displace core existing norms, the most widely cited of which is sovereignty. This paper draws on the theory of Cognitive Structures of Cooperation (csc Theory) to identify the relationship of R2P to existing normative structures, including the Charter of the United Nations, with a view to assessing the depth of the challenge posed and the potential consequences if the emergent norm were to be fully embraced. The analysis concludes that, rather than representing the object and potential victim of the R2P assault, sovereignty is better understood as having represented a decoy in this process of normative contestation.

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