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August 1, 2016

In Alex J. Bellamy and Tim Dunne, eds., Oxford Handbook on the Responsibility to Protect (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 509-523

Abstract: Policy practitioners and scholars have tended to treat the responsibility to protect (R2P) and peacebuilding as separate domains. This chapter, in contrast, argues that these two domains are more closely connected than both the policy discourse and much of the academic literature would suggest. Peacebuilding appears to be an integral part of R2P, and peacebuilding strategies aimed at reducing the risks of conflict relapse are core strategies for preventing atrocity crimes. Further, the use of coercive military force to stop an imminent or actual atrocity crime creates its own requirement for post-crisis peacebuilding. Thus, closer analysis of the relationship between peacebuilding and R2P would benefit both practitioners and scholars.

Introduction: POLICY practitioners and scholars have tended to treat the responsibility to prote...

March 1, 2015

International Peacekeeping 22:2 (2015), pp. 143-50

I am grateful to Ramesh Thakur, Robert Pape, David Mutimer and David Chandler for their thoughtful replies to my article on ‘The “Responsibility to Protect” and the Structural Problems of Preventive Humanitarian Intervention'. 1 They each raise interesting, albeit quite different, points. Indeed, reading the commentaries reminded me of the Roman playwright Terrence's aphorism, ‘ quot capita tot sensus ’, which in English literally means ‘as many heads, so many opinions’, or as President Franklin D. Roosevelt quipped 18 centuries later: ‘There are as many opinions as there are experts’. To wit: Thakur asserts that the structural problems described in my article are not real; Pape believes they are real, but not as daunting as I have suggested; whereas Mutimer and Chandler argue that these problems are actually manifestations of deeper processes, but have different ideas about the nature of these processes.

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.

March 13, 2012

In the New York Times last week, Tufts University’s Alex de Waal penned an op-ed that scathingly criticized the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine and a group of people he calls “idealists.” In the article, he identified only two members of this group: Gareth Evans (a former Australian foreign minister who co-chaired the commission that first proposed R2P) and Samantha Power (author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide, who now works on the National Security Council staff in the Obama White House).

Evans, Power, and their “fellow idealists” misunderstand the nature of mass atrocities, de Waal argues. Instead of recognizing that skillfull diplomacy can, in some circumstances, achieve political solutions to large-scale violence, “idealists” tend to view perpetrators as insatiable killers who can be stopped only by sending in the cavalry against them. According to de Waal, this tendency to turn to military solutions for mass viol...

January 11, 2012

This article first appeared in the Winter 2011 issue of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute Quarterly Review.

The grotesque display of Muammar Qaddafi’s bloodied corpse in Sirte, Libya, where he was captured and killed, and later in a Misrata meat locker, did little to build confidence in the commitment of Libya’s rebels to due process and the rule of law. It did, however, represent a clear culmination of the Libyan revolution. In recent years, we have seen few civil wars end with such devastatingly definitive victories.

This outcome also provided some vindication to Western leaders who initially pressed for military action last March, when Qaddafi threatened to overrun the city of Benghazi and to send his forces door to door to hunt down regime opponents. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron led the calls for action. US President Barack Obama eventually joined their cause and lent America’s diplomatic weight to the task of achievin...

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Roland Paris
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

University of Ottawa

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