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Author: Ramesh Thakur

R2P is the international community’s organising principle for responding to mass atrocity crimes. It reflected and contributed to the shift from power towards norms as the pivot on which history turns. The old, discredited and discarded ‘humanitarian intervention’ represents the national interest and power end of the intervention spectrum. R2P is an effort to insert the global justice and normative end and has much better prospects of a convergence of legality and legitimacy in the use of force. It will be easier to prevent unilateral use of force by great powers if their interventionist instincts are moderated by the discipline of multilateral norms. R2P has a secure future because it is demand-driven. On the realism side of the ledger, many leaders rule on the basis of brute force and occasionally will commit atrocities. On the normative side, the better angels of most people in many countries will demand effective and timely action by governments and the UN to halt the atrocities and punish the perpetrators. R2P is the answer to the challenge of global justice being done and being seen to be done, both by states as the primary units of the global order but also by peoples in whom sovereignty ultimately resides. And it does so by reconciling several inherent tensions between competing interests, competing values, and competing interests and values: between the UN Security Council and the General Assembly; between human and national security; between states and the international community; between institutionalised indifference and unilateral intervention; and between the global North and South.

In: Global Responsibility to Protect
Author: Ramesh Thakur

The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle, encompassing the three symbiotically linked responsibilities to prevent, respond and rebuild, was unanimously adopted at the United Nations World Summit in 2005. The responsibility to rebuild needs to be re-elevated to prominence as an integral component of R2P: conceptually, normatively and operationally; and its institutional homes in the UN system and the Secretary-General’s role clarified. The 2009 three pillar formulation of R2P works well in most contexts, but is problematic in that it buries and loses sight of the critical importance of the original ICISS third ‘responsibility to rebuild’ and reconstruct war-raved societies to the point of being viable and self-sustaining once again. Because R2P was adopted at a world summit, I begin by highlighting the distinctive attributes of summit diplomacy. Next, I derive some key lessons from the major international interventions of the twenty-first century and recall the context in which R2P was originally formulated in order to highlight the distinctive features of its contribution to international policy. I then describe three dimensions of the responsibility to rebuild – recovery, reconstruction and reconciliation – and the strategies and steps needed for the rebuilding agenda. Recalling that Security Council authorization of R2P coercive operations is a non-negotiable prerequisite, I suggest that the responsibility to rebuild can be reintroduced and implemented through the administrative and political leadership roles of the Secretary-General.

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In: Asian International Studies Review
In: Peace Operation Success