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This article expounds the role played by Hugo Grotius in marginalizing positive duties for the protection of vulnerable people beyond the sovereign state. In the sixteenth century, theorists writing within a range of traditions had posited solemn and demanding duties to assist and rescue vulnerable subjects of other rulers from tyranny and persecution. In the early seventeenth century, Grotius explicitly subordinated such duties to the duty to seek the preservation and advantage of one’s own state. He claimed that, while the care of the vulnerable subjects of others was praiseworthy, it was not obligatory. No state was bound to accept trouble or inconvenience for the sake of vulnerable outsiders. Grotius turns out to be less of an exemplar for present day notions of the Responsibility to Protect and other international duties of human protection than he is often said to be.

In: Grotiana
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This introduction to the special issue on Children and r2p lays out the parallel development of the r2p and Children and Armed Conflict agendas over the last two decades and surveys how key r2p documents developed during this period have engaged with issues of child protection. It then outlines the articles that follow.

In: Global Responsibility to Protect
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Abstract

The concept of the responsibility to protect (R2P) holds that not only do sovereign states have a responsibility to protect their populations, but so too does the international community. The international community is said to be responsible for encouraging and assisting states to protect and also for taking collective action to enforce the protection of populations in instances where states fail to carry out their obligations. This idea that the international community itself bears not merely a right but a responsibility to protect, through military intervention if necessary, is perhaps the most novel aspect of the R2P concept, and it would seem to have extraordinary implications. Yet it remains largely under-examined. In this article, I consider how the notion that the international community bears a responsibility to protect might be fruitfully understood and conceptualised. After briefly outlining from where this idea has emerged, I consider two interrelated questions: What kind of responsibility is it – moral, legal, or political, or some combination of the three? And who in particular bears the responsibility – the international community broadly speaking, particular international institutions such as the Security Council, regional organisations, or individual states?

In: Global Responsibility to Protect
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Abstract

The idea of international protection of vulnerable populations has imperial roots. Scholars of international history teach us that the idea of protection was routinely invoked to justify European colonial rule and some of its brutal violence. Their scholarship makes for sobering reading for anyone advocating international efforts to protect vulnerable people today. In this roundtable contribution, I describe how I have wrestled with R2P’s colonial parallels in my recent book, Sharing Responsibility: The History and Future of Protection from Atrocities.

Open Access
In: Global Responsibility to Protect
In: Protecting the Displaced
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Abstract

This introduction outlines in broad strokes some key aspects of the relationship between the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and the practice and scholarship of child protection. It lays out the parallel development of the R2P and Children and Armed Conflict agendas over the last two decades and surveys how key R2P documents developed during this period have engaged with issues of child protection. It then outlines the chapters that follow.

In: Children and the Responsibility to Protect
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Abstract

This introduction outlines in broad strokes some key aspects of the relationship between the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and the practice and scholarship of child protection. It lays out the parallel development of the R2P and Children and Armed Conflict agendas over the last two decades and surveys how key R2P documents developed during this period have engaged with issues of child protection. It then outlines the chapters that follow.

In: Children and the Responsibility to Protect
In: Global Responsibility to Protect
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Abstract

Some Christian political theorists and theologians counter calls for greater generosity toward refugees by appealing to the prerogatives of state sovereignty, the preferential love for fellow-citizens, and the priority of loving nearby neighbours over distant strangers. This article responds to each argument, arguing that the right to exclude outsiders is not an immutable aspect of sovereignty, the construction of a social contract among fellow-citizens does not justify abandoning duties to non-citizens, and, in a highly globalized world, the obligation to love one’s neighbour is not rightly circumscribed by geography. It further argues that Jesus’s parable of the good Samaritan serves as a foil through which it can be seen that many sovereign states not only fail to love the displaced neighbour by providing refuge, but, like the priest and the Levite, go out of their way to keep refugees at a distance—and, like the robbers, even contribute to their vulnerability and suffering.

Full Access
In: International Journal of Public Theology
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It is increasingly well understood that concepts of ‘humanitarian intervention’ and the ‘responsibility to protect’ enjoy a long and rich history. Nevertheless, it is surprising how plainly the arguments offered by states seeking to justify intervention in Libya in 2011 echo those used by theologians, jurists, and philosophers to justify intervention in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. Those advocating intervention in Libya drew not just on the language of ‘human rights,’ that emerged relatively recently, but on a wider and much older range of idioms and ideas to make their case. In this article, I identify three key arguments that were employed by states in support of the intervention and I demonstrate their parallels with three principal arguments that have been advanced to justify intervention in response to tyranny since the sixteenth century. The three arguments are: the need to protect ‘innocents’; the need to hold ‘tyrants’ to account; and the need to defend the will of a sovereign people. After exploring each argument, I conclude by noting that the claim often heard today, that intervention is under certain circumstances a responsibility rather than merely a right, also has deep roots in early modern thought.

In: Global Responsibility to Protect