1-2 / 2013 Content

88 (2013) 1-2: Responsibility to protect – Normative Expactations and Political Practice

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Editor's Introduction
Christopher Daase / Julian Junk



Is the R2P Failing? The Controversy about Norm Justification and Norm Application of the Responsibility to Protect

Nicole Deitelhoff

Recurring contestation on the application of the R2P in confl ict situations has given rise to assessments that portray the R2P as not a norm at all, a norm-to-be or one in decay. The article aims to show that norms do not lose their validity because they are contested. All norms rely on applicatory discourses to establish their appropriateness for a given situation. Contestation regarding their application can even strengthen norms when it provokes learning processes. Norm validity is at risk if contestation radicalizes, i.e. turns to norm justification. As yet there are no signs of radicalization for the R2P.


Legalizing Legitimacy. A Critique of the Responsibility to Protect as Emerging Norm

Christopher Daase

It has become commonplace to call the Responsibility to Protect an emerging norm. But what does this actually mean? This article argues that calling R2P an emerging norm prejudges the normative outcome of an unfi nished deliberation process in a way that supports Western liberal ideas of international order. By nobilitating the R2P as emerging norm, quasi-legal justifications can be used for actions that are strictly illegal. What is more, by pretending to bridge the gap between legitimacy and legality, the notion erases the difference between two different kinds of political normativity – moral and legal normativity – with the effect of undermining the authority of both.

Security Council Resolution 1973 in the Case of Libya – A Milestone for the Anchorage of the Responsibility to Protect in Public International Law

Christopher Verlage

NATO’s air strikes against Libya in spring/summer 2011 were the fi rst air strikes which were authorised by the Security Council on the basis of the Responsibility to Protect. This historical sign demands a deeper analysis of what resolution 1973 means to the anchorage of the Responsibility to Protect in public international law. Has law changed already to that extent that a sovereign state has to tolerate a military intervention if it is not capable or willing to protect its citizens from genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity? And if so, what does this mean to the United Nations and its member states?

Libya, the Responsibility to Protect and Germany’s Abstention Vote in the UN Security Council on Resolution 1973 of March 17, 2011

Wolfgang Seibel

The paper gives an account on, and an explanation of, the chain of events and decisions that led to Germany’s abstention vote on UN Security Council Resolution 1973 of March 17, 2011, stipulating the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya to protect the country’s civilian population against state-sponsored mass crimes under the Gaddafi regime. It distinguishes longterm-structural and contingent causal factors and identifi es the critical junctures at which the German decision became irreversible. What made that decision signifi cant, the paper states, was Germany’s ignorance vis-à-vis the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) as a crucial principle of the United Nations and the country’s isolation among its closest allies, the USA, the UK and France. Which contributed to the perception of Germany as an international actor whose political weight and political ability to assume a responsible role in international organizations do not match.

Responsibility to Pretend? Symbolic Politics and the Non-Military Dimension of the R2P

Caroline Fehl

Most of the past literature on the Responsibility to Protect has focused on the military implementation of the emerging norm and on the ethical and practical dilemmas entailed the latter, while treating R2P’s civilian dimension as largely unproblematic. In contrast, this article argues that certain non-military instruments widely enlisted in the service of the R2P, specifi cally economic sanctions and international criminal prosecutions, can equally have severe unintended consequences. They are used as symbolic responses to public pressure to “do something” about mass atrocities abroad, rather than rationally chosen in view of their practical impact on the ground.

Humanitarian Pleas, Humanitarian Interventions? Media Reporting, Government Action and the International Engagement in Sudan

Julian Junk

Notwithstanding the normative developments of a Responsibility to Protect, decisions to intervene based on humanitarian considerations are still taken either reluctantly or not at all. Commonly cited reasons for this are blockades in international institutions or the interest-based foreign policy of relevant states. At the same time, there is a multifaceted literature on the infl uence of media reporting on intervention decisions of states. However, this literature remains, with only minor exceptions, static or descriptive and focused on humanitarian pleas without systematically analyzing interest-based arguments. This article presents a broad time series analysis to escape those defi cits. This is done by comparing the media reporting and government action in France, Germany, UK, and US from 2001 to 2008 on two humanitarian crises and interventions in Sudan (Southern Sudan and Darfur). The analysis reveals that humanitarian pleas in media reporting are rather a suffi cient than a necessary condition for government action.

Dilemmas of the International Protection of People from Mass Atrocities. An Outlook

Lothar Brock

Against the background of the pre-existing human rights instruments, the 2005 resolution of the UN reform summit on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) confi rms the responsibility of every government for the protection of its people from mass atrocities. However, the role of the international community with regard to this responsibility remains contested. The present domestic conflicts in the Arab world underline the urgency of a consistent international engagement within the framework of the R2P. They also demonstrate the basic dilemmas of any endeavour to protect people from domestic violence through outside interference. The present paper addresses these dilemmas with regard to the tension between the responsibility to protect and the responsibility to maintain peace, the interplay between humanitarian and non-humanitarian issues in the politics of protection and the diffi culties to establish the appropriateness of protective measures in view of the complexities of any attempt to help protect people from domestic violence through outside interference. The paper argues that the politics of protection will continue to reflect these dilemmas. Nevertheless, the R2P provides a normative framework within which the shortcomings and inconsistencies of the politics of protection can be addressed in a constructive way.


Further Article

Elections in the Time of Prosecution: The Situation in Kenya and the International Criminal Court

Mayeul Hiéramente

The article deals with the on-going trials against high-ranking Kenyan politicians at the International Criminal Court and their effects on the presidential elections 2012/2013. Since the election campaigns coincided with short-time eruptions of excessive violence, the situation in Kenya offers a case study that allows for a better understanding of how international criminal law works in politicized surroundings. The article illustrates how politicians, the media and non-governmental organizations seized on the issue to infl uence the outcome of the elections. Furthermore, it addresses the characteristic features of the crime Kenyatta et al. are accused of as well as the underlying political circumstances and assesses whether the trials might be precipitated or dismissed altogether.