Building on arguments advanced in a new book on the idea of ‘special responsibilities’ in world politics, this article brings to the foreground what is often in the background of R2P debates. Specifically, it explores how far a special responsibilities frame can bridge the gap between the ‘permissive’ character of the R2P regime and the cosmopolitan desire to see decisive humanitarian rescue as an obligation. Special responsibilities also provides an opening to consider the other side of the register, namely, how the burdens and costs of intervention should be distributed. To date, it is realists who have raised such questions; I argue that, constructivists need to address them too. With better burden-sharing arrangements related to special responsibilities, great powers will be more inclined to accept the further movement of R2P in the direction of an obligatory regime.