The politics of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) are interwoven with the ghosts of Rwanda and Srebrenica. Although R2P can clearly be seen as an attempt to legitimate intervening in sovereign states to protect human rights, the post-2001 emphasis of advocates on intervention actually reduced the chances of truly humanitarian action by complicating the calculations of sovereigns faced with unpredictable political risks. As the military dimension to R2P wanes, so the possibility of intervention on a truly humanitarian basis might increase. And thus, the real achievement of the last two decades, embedding the idea of civilian protection as an expectation, comes into view. It is harder than it was to publicly murder your own citizens with impunity. R2P has been a success, we might say, to the extent that it has helped establish the civilian protection principle. But the historical record suggests this emerging norm predates R2P. We can even interpret R2P as a decade-long interlude, a diversion, from the underlying trend toward establishing a post-Cold War norm of preventing atrocities against civilians. What we must not expect, in Syria as in Sri Lanka, is armed intervention in an internal conflict when the United States, China and Russia have vital and conflicting interests at stake.
Alex J Bellamy, ‘Responsibility to Protect or Trojan Horse? The Crisis in Darfur and Humanitarian Intervention after Iraq,’Ethics and International Affairs, 19/2 (2005), pp. 38–39. Also, MacFarlane, Thielking and Weiss, ‘The Responsibility to Protect’, pp. 983–985.
Hugh Breakey, ‘The Responsibility to Protect and the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts: Review and Analysis,’Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law, Griffith University, May, 2011, available at: http://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/333844/Responsibility-to-Protect-and-the-Protection-of-Civilians-in-Armed-Conflict-Review-and-Analysis.pdf
Alex J Bellamy, ‘The Responsibility to Protect and the Problem of Military Intervention,’International Affairs, 84/4 (2008), p. 617. Also Francis M. Deng et al, Sovereignty as Responsibility: Conflict Management in Africa (Washington DC: Brookings, 1996).
See for example Hugo Slim, ‘Dithering Over Darfur? A Preliminary Review of the International Response,’International Affairs, 80/5 (2004), pp. 820–1. The former Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Edward C Luck, argues however that the endorsement of R2P in 2005 would have been unthinkable even as recently as 2000; see ‘The Responsibility to Protect: Growing Pains or Early Promise,’ Ethics and International Affairs, 24/4, (2012).
Adam Roberts, ‘Humanitarian War: Military Intervention and Human Rights,’International Affairs69/3 (1993), pp. 429–449 and Thomas M. Franck, ‘The Emerging Right to Democratic Governance,’ American Journal of International Law, 86/1 (1992), pp. 46–91.
Foley, ‘Normative Developments’, p. 12. Brazil later changed this to ‘logical sequencing.’ See Thorsten Brenner, ‘Brazil as a norm entrepreneur: The “Responsibility While Protecting” initiative,’ Global Public Policy Institute, March 2013, p. 7.
For example, Thomas G. Weiss, ‘The Sunset of Humanitarian Intervention? The Responsibility to Protect in a Unipolar Era,’Security Dialogue, 35/2 (2004), pp. 142–144, and Weiss, ‘R2P after 9/11 and the World Summit’, p. 754.