The ‘Responsibility to Protect’ and the Structural Problems of Preventive Humanitarian Intervention

October 17, 2014

International Peacekeeping 21:5 (2014), pp. 569-603

Abstract: While the normative and legal aspects of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine have been explored in great detail, scholars have largely overlooked the more practical question of whether and how international military action can avert mass atrocities. To shed light on this question, this article investigates the ‘strategic logic’ of preventive humanitarian intervention, or the assumed link between external military action and the desired outcome of preventing or stopping mass killing. It contends that there are five fundamental and seemingly irremediable tensions in this logic, all of which cast doubt on the feasibility of preventive humanitarian intervention and on the long-term prospects of R2P.

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Roland Paris
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

University of Ottawa

120 University Private, Room 6053

Ottawa, Ontario, K1Y 3M5, Canada

rparis@uottawa.ca

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@rolandparis

© Roland Paris 2019