Responsibility to Protect

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Polity, Jan 20, 2009 - Political Science - 249 pages
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At the 2005 UN World Summit, world leaders endorsed theinternational principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P),acknowledging that they had a responsibility to protect theircitizens from genocide and mass atrocities and pledging to act incases where governments manifestly failed in their responsibility.This marked a significant turning point in attitudes towards theprotection of citizens worldwide.

This important new book charts the emergence of this principle,from its origins in a doctrine of sovereignty as responsibility,through debates about the legitimacy of humanitarian interventionand the findings of a prominent international commission, andfinally through the long and hard negotiations that preceded the2005 commitment. It explores how world leaders came to acknowledgethat sovereign rights entailed fundamental responsibilities andwhat that acknowledgment actually means. The book goes on toanalyze in detail the ways in which R2P can contribute to theglobal effort to end genocide and mass atrocities. Focusing on theprevention of these crimes and the improvement of the world’sreaction to them, the book explores the question of how to buildsustainable peace in their aftermath. Alex J. Bellamy argues thatalthough 2005 marked an important watershed, much more work isneeded to defend R2P from those who would walk away from theircommitments and – in the words of UN Secretary-General BanKi-moon – to translate the principle ‘from words intodeeds’.

This fascinating book will appeal to students and scholars ofinternational relations, international affairs, human rights andhumanitarian emergencies, as well as anyone concerned about theprotection of civilians on a global scale


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Some factual errors in the book need to be corrected. For example, the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army is 'Joseph' Kony and not 'Stephen' Kony as presented. Moreover, Charles Taylor was not indicted and tried in the International Criminal Court ('ICC') as the author asserts, but in the Special Court for Sierra Leone although the trials took place in the ICC building facility in The Hague. I couldn't continue reading the book after seeing such errors in the chapter I started with. I hope the rest is good. 


1 Sovereignty and Human Rights
2 The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty
3 The 2005 World Summit
4 Prevention
5 Reaction
6 Rebuilding

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About the author (2009)

Alexander Bellamy is Professor of International Security in the Griffith Asia Institute/Centre for Governance and Public Policy at Griffith University.

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