Circumventing the Responsibility to Protect in Yemen: Rhetorical Adaptation and the United Nations Security Council

In: Global Responsibility to Protect
Felicity Mulford Hillary Rodham Clinton Global Challenges Scholar, School of Law, Swansea University, Swansea, Wales, UK,

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Since 2015, the population of Yemen has faced atrocity crimes and the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. Through a discourse analysis, this research investigates how United Nations Security Council (unsc) member states interact with the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) norm within formal meetings and resolutions on the conflict in Yemen. Members of the unsc use rhetorical adaptation techniques to circumvent their responsibility to protect the Yemeni population through military intervention should political, diplomatic, or humanitarian methods fail, leading to norm erosion. For example, rather than responding to the mass atrocities through an R2P lens, international law is invoked (norm avoidance), ultimately shifting responsibility from action to reaction through observation and prosecution. This research reinforces the need to research norms at the agent level, as norms can undergo various processes of resistance simultaneously. Rather than playing a pertinent role in atrocity prevention, R2P is being resisted and violated by members of the unsc.

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