The People vs. The State
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The People vs. The State

Reflections on UN Authority, US Power and the Responsibility to Protect

Responsibility to Protect (R2P) aims to convert international conscience into timely and decisive collective action to rescue vulnerable communities. The choice is not whether international interventions will take place but where, when, how and under whose authority. Given the nature and victims of modern armed conflict, protection of civilians and populations at risk of mass atrocities is a core United Nations imperative. But while the UN has international authority, it lacks military power. Although its military might well have unmatched global reach, the United States acting unilaterally lacks international authority. This publication argues that progress towards good international society requires that force be harnessed to authority as the R2P moves from a universally validated principle to a routinely actionable norm.
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Author(s):
Ramesh Thakur

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Sri Lanka’s quarter-century-long brutal civil war came to a bloody end recently. But it left the world with some troubling questions to which no definitive answers are obvious. What, if any, limitations exist on governments’ right to use force to crush terrorist organizations? How can the responsibility to protect norm be extended to non-state actors? Do Westerners have divine dispensation to be the moral arbiters of the conduct of others as well as their own?