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Book Chapter

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Over the past several decades, the central focus of international law has shifted from protecting only sovereign states to protecting individuals. Still, the worst imaginable human rights abuses – genocides, ethnic cleansings, crimes against humanity, and systemic war crimes – occur with alarming frequency. And the international response is often slow or ineffectual.

The most recent development for addressing this problem is the ‘responsibility to protect’, an idea that has received so much attention that it now goes simply by R2P. R2P stands for two basic propositions. First, each state must protect its population from atrocities. This proposition is well established in international law, but experience demonstrates that states sometimes fail their own populations. R2P's key innovation is its second proposition: that the broader international community should step in, when necessary, to help at-risk populations. Unlike the first proposition, the second one is widely understood not to be legally operative.And the extent to which it otherwise influences states is, at best, speculative and contested.


International Law | Law


This material has been published in "Distribution of Responsibilities in International Law", edited by André Nollkaemper and Dov Jacobs. This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution or re-use.