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    STUDIA EUROPAEA - Issue no. 2 / 2017  

DOI: 10.24193/subbeuropaea.2017.2.05

Published Online: 2017-06-30
Published Print: 2017-06-30


The meaning of RtoP (responsibility to protect) is self-explanatory, it shows what the international community (or at least some part of it) considers unacceptable in today’s world: genocide, ethnic cleansing and barbarous acts against civilians. However, the same international community stood silent when Rwanda and Srebrenica happened. Yet precisely because of the guilt and shame associated with its previous failures, the same international community managed to launch an initiative, ”responsibility to protect” (RtoP/R2P), in 2001. We insist on calling RtoP an “initiative”, not as a derogatory term, but as a counter-rhetoric argument to the so-called “RtoP emerging norm”. According to international law theory, a norm can be either customary (derogatory), either peremptory (jus cogens), there is no in-between option, particularly when interpreting the UN Charter provisions in relation with to the broad-spectrum of the principle of non-intervention as opposed to human rights (the area where RtoP tries to overstep the Charter’s authority). The main aspects of RtoP are, (1) on one count, the infringement on state-sovereignty (the “functional sovereignty” theory), particularly on the quality of the so-called “Westphalia-style” sovereignty, (2) the other being the clear purpose of the ICISS, above and beyond of ending mass-atrocities, which is the process of legalizing humanitarian intervention. After the 1999 Kosovo Intervention and during the early phases of the War on Terror, humanitarian intervention became seriously de-legitimised, this is why something novel was needed, which where RtoP stepped-in, riding on the hopes of many.

Keywords: humanitarian intervention, responsibility to protect, international law, state sovereignty, (non) interventionism, human rights.


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