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The People vs. The State

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

image of The People vs. The State
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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UN’s “Einstein” moment

The optimists had hoped for a “San Francisco moment” in New York, as decisive and momentous as the signing of the UN Charter 60 years earlier in the city by the bay. Critics might well conclude that instead the United Nations had an Einstein moment, recalling his definition of madness as doing something over and over again and expecting a different result each time. The organization has been a graveyard of every previous major reform effort.

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