The Dangers of the Dissemination of Misinformation in Implementing the Responsibility to Protect

in Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


The creation of the responsibility to protect doctrine reformulated the historical notion of humanitarian intervention. The new doctrine was centered around the principle of nonintervention, a basic precept of the u.n. Charter system, with its initial report explicitly excluding regime change disguised as humanitarian intervention as external to the scope of the doctrine. Military intervention was only to be the means of last resort after the exhaustion of several preliminary mechanisms. In its implementation, the broad mandate of the responsibility to protect has been harshly criticized because it opens the possibility for powerful States, often seeking regime change, to interfere in the domestic affairs of weaker States. This article will first discuss (i) the chronology and evolution of the doctrine, (ii) situating it in the context of the u.n. Charter prohibition on the use of force and articulating its nonbinding nature. It will then examine (iii) the cases of Libya and Syria, focusing on the initial decision to intervene and how the dissemination of misinformation has served to promote military interventions where they would otherwise be considered illegitimate. The article will conclude with a brief discussion of (iv) how the international community can move beyond misapplication and seek to limit its abuse.




Stahn, supra note 5, at 102–103 (“Second, the commission sought to bridge the gap between intervention and sovereignty by introducing a complementary concept of responsibility, under which responsibility is shared by the national state and the broader international community.”); also C. Powell, ‘Libya: A Multilateral Constitutional Moment?’, 106 ajil 298 (2012) at 298 (“This transformation away from the traditional Westphalian notion of sovereignty has been unfolding for decades, but the Libyan case represents a further normative shift from sovereignty as a right to sovereignty as a responsibility.”).


Stahn, supra note 5, at 103.


Stahn, supra note 5, at 108–111.


Stahn, supra note 5, at 108–111.


Orford, supra note 32, at 402 (“Most international lawyers have concluded that the version of the responsibility to protect concept enshrined in the World Summit Outcome and accepted by Members of the General Assembly cannot be understood to impose new legal obligations that are binding upon states acting either unilaterally or collectively.” (emphasis added).


Orford, supra note 32, at 402–403.


Stahn, supra note 5, at 104.


Badescu, supra note 37, at 88–89.


Bâli and Rana, supra note 47, at 338.


I. Black, ‘Libya Revolution Casualties Lower Than Expected, Says New Government’, The Guardian, 8 January 2013.


The Humanitarian War, supra note 62.


Black, supra note 64.


M. Zenko and A. Wolf, ‘Syria Civil War Total Fatalities’, Council on Foreign Relations Blog, 1 April 2014. For more inconsistencies, see S. Narwani, ‘Questioning the Syrian ‘Casualty List’, Al Akhbar English, 28 February 2012; E. El-Shenawi, ‘Raising A Brow At the Syrian Death Toll’, Al Arabiya News, 25 March 2012.


Agence France Presse, ‘More Than 115,000 Killed in Syria’s War’, Al Arabiya News, 2 October 2013.


M. Musin, ‘The Houla Massacre: Opposition Terrorists ‘Killed Families Loyal to the Government’, Global Research, 1 June 2012.


 See e.g. R. Hermann, ‘Syrian Rebels Committed Houla Massacre’, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 7 June 2012; see also e.g., M. Musin, ‘Anna: Materials of our Own Independent Investigation on Houla’, 30 May 2012, (last accessed 6 March 2015).


A. Barnard, ‘Syria and Activists Trade Charges on Chemical Weapons’, The New York Times, 19 March 2013.


A. Thomson, ‘Syria Chemical Weapons: Finger Pointed At Jihadists’, The Telegraph, 23 March 2013.


T. Shelton and P. Gelling, ‘Syria: The Horrific Chemical Weapons Attack That Probably Wasn’t a Chemical Weapons Attack’, Global Post, 30 April 2013.


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 12 12 7
Full Text Views 4 4 4
PDF Downloads 1 1 1
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0