The Responsibility to Protect—Five Years On

Bellamy, Alex J. (2010) The Responsibility to Protect—Five Years On. Ethics and International Affairs, 24 2: 143-169.

Author Bellamy, Alex J.
Title The Responsibility to Protect—Five Years On
Journal name Ethics and International Affairs   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0892-6794
Publication date 2010
Sub-type Article (original research)
Open Access Status
Volume 24
Issue 2
Start page 143
End page 169
Total pages 27
Place of publication New York, NY, United States
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Language eng
Abstract The Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) has become a prominent feature in international debates about preventing and responding to genocide and mass atrocities. Since its adoption in 2005, it has been discussed in relation to a dozen major crises and been the subject of discussion at the UN Security Council and General Assembly. This article takes stock of the past five years and examines three questions about RtoP: What is its function? Is it a norm, and, if so, what sort? And what contribution has it made to the prevention of atrocities and protection of vulnerable populations? In relation to the first, it argues that RtoP is commonly conceptualized as fulfilling one of two functions (a framework for a policy agenda and a speech-act meant to generate the will to intervene), but that these two functions are incompatible. In relation to the second question, it argues that RtoP is best thought of as two sets of norms relating to the responsibilities of states to their own populations and international responsibilities. The first set are well defined and established, the second though are indeterminate and lack compliance-pull, limiting the extent to which RtoP can serve as a catalyst for action. This, the article argues, is reflected in RtoP's track record thus far. RtoP has failed to generate additional political will in response to atrocity crimes but it has proven useful as both a diplomatic tool and as a policy lens.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Political Science and International Studies Publications
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Created: Tue, 11 Nov 2014, 14:27:51 EST by Anthony Yeates on behalf of School of Political Science & Internat'l Studies