Pub. Date:
Anthem Press
Responsibility to Protect and Prevent: Principles, Promises and Practicalities

Responsibility to Protect and Prevent: Principles, Promises and Practicalities

by Daniel Silander


Current price is , Original price is $40.0. You

Temporarily Out of Stock Online

Please check back later for updated availability.


This volume explores the development and application of responsibility to protect (R2P), a principle which – according to its supporters – has evolved into a new type of responsive norm regarding how the international community should react to serious and deliberate human rights violations.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781783083459
Publisher: Anthem Press
Publication date: 12/01/2014
Series: Anthem Studies in Peace, Conflict and Development Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 206
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

John Janzekovic is a lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.

Daniel Silander is associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Linnaeus University, Sweden.

Read an Excerpt

Responsibility to Protect and Prevent

Principles, Promises and Practicalities

By John Janzekovic, Daniel Silander

Wimbledon Publishing Company

Copyright © 2013 John Janzekovic and Daniel Silander
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-85728-078-7



The 2005 UN World Summit was a pivotal event in the formal progression of the responsibility to protect (R2P) principles. Paragraphs 138–9 of the summit's outcome document articulated the fundamental responsibilities of states and the wider international community. The R2P approach was directly applied for the first time by the Security Council to the genocide in Darfur and most recently to the international response in Libya during the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 and 2012. Since the late 1990s, the concept of R2P has evolved into what supporters now claim is a new type of responsive norm regarding how the international community should react to serious and deliberate human rights violations. The 2001 UN International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty co-chaired by Gareth Evans and Mohamed Sahnoun articulated in detail the principles of R2P. These principles were then formally endorsed by the majority of states at the 2005 UN General Assembly World Summit in New York.

At the 2005 summit, the international community almost unanimously endorsed the idea that states have a fundamental responsibility to protect their own citizens, and in most cases the citizens from other states, from gross human rights violations and other mass atrocities. However, the progression of R2P from concept to principle to formal ratification in 2005 has been a very difficult one with a great deal of disagreement over the validity of R2P as a substantive or even a developing norm in international affairs. The disagreement is not that protection or prevention are unimportant, nor is it that the international community does not have at least some responsibility to try to stop extreme human rights violations. The disagreement is primarily about how the protection and prevention principles that underpin the R2P ethos, while theoretically acceptable, are supposed to work in practice. Fundamentally, of what possible use are such principles when governments and policy makers continue to ignore the basic premise of protection?

Some of the major rising powers such as China, India and Russia refuted the overarching concept of R2P primarily because this notion violates the essential principle of state sovereignty. That is, the security of the state must come first and any move towards prioritizing human security over state security threatens the underlying sanctity of statehood itself. Despite such challenges there has been an intensified debate on the practical need to address conflicts that deliberately and repeatedly demonstrate unacceptable state behaviour towards humans.

This is not only a debate about idealizing human rights or substantiating the functions of the state apparatus. This is a debate about the fundamental obligations of a civil and moral society, and how the international community should or even can protect people who are at extreme risk of deliberate violence. The need to prevent violence and to protect people from the excesses of their governments has been preached and argued by many, but the serious application of operational and structural strategies that effectively address the most basic human needs of citizens, particularly in weak states, are significantly more theory than practice. The notion of protection that is enshrined in the R2P ethos attempts to provide some sort of formal structure for how we should ameliorate the effects of mass violence and deprivation.

R2P refers to third-party initiatives aimed at pre-empting the escalation of violence. Such initiatives may be of various kinds, but they are mostly political ventures to prevent violent conflicts rooted in complex networks of religion, ethnicity, identity and culture and in the struggle for power. The Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, in its final 1999 report Preventing Deadly Conflict, identified three broad aims of preventative action: prevent the emergence of violent conflict, prevent ongoing conflicts from spreading and prevent the re-emergence of violence. The commission proposed three fundamental principles underpinning effective prevention strategies; early reaction to signs of trouble, a comprehensive, balanced approach to alleviate the pressures or risk factors that trigger violent conflict and an extended effort to resolve the underlying root causes of violence. However, neither the commission generally nor the report articulated how this was to be done except to propose that prevention may be operational or structural in nature. Operational prevention is focused on addressing and responding to the immediacy of conflict, while structural prevention is aimed at identifying and responding to the underlying causes of conflict. Bellamy and Williams point out that structural and operational preventative initiatives currently exist more in theory than in practice. A further significant challenge is that the nexus between protection and prevention is unclear. Are they the same? Is one dependent on the other? Should one have priority over the other? We aim to address these very difficult questions and posit that desperate efforts at protection (where it occurs at all) can only ever be a final response to deliberate and extreme human rights violations. Prevention and the need for prevention before protection in these cases has either been too little, too late, or non-existent in the first place.

Protection and Prevention

One important reason that strategic prevention is more theory than practice or actuality is because of the very complex nature and difficulty in identifying appropriate and effective preventative responses to potential conflict situations. Where preventative responses are not identified, or if they are identified but not effective, then direct intervention must remain as the final protection option to alleviate the immediate suffering of the victims of extreme violence. Humanitarian intervention may end up as a secondary prevention option to stop the violence from escalating further and wider out of control.

Until very recently, the prevention, reaction and rebuilding dimensions were considered primarily to be the responsibility of the sovereign state. Not only has this resulted in great harm to citizens by governments or regimes who deliberately brutalize their own people, but this approach has provided many in the international community a reason, if not an outright excuse, not to become involved in the affairs of another state regardless of even the most desperate humanitarian need to do so.

State sovereignty is intimately associated with human security in the sense that sovereignty is ultimately morally derived from the people. This means that, in the end, state security is dependent on human security. When states fail to provide human security this increasingly undermines the moral and legal legitimacy of the state itself. When states fail in this way, then intervention with the aim to protect and to prevent further atrocities must remain an option. We argue that if states deliberately violate this fundamental obligation, then there is a strong and legitimate case for the international community to firstly assume responsibility for the welfare of those people most at risk and secondly to act directly to stop extreme and deliberate brutalization of citizens by the state.

This position challenges and directly confronts the traditional norms of noninterference by outsiders into the affairs of a sovereign state. Yet the development of human security norms in international relations – security, moral, humanitarian and democracy norms – obliges the international community to act under these critical circumstances. Such intervention is also subject to a very wide range of factors including political will, domestic support and capacity to respond. R2P identifies the legal and moral obligations of states and the international community to protect civilians in harm's way. It emphasizes the primary responsibility of the state to uphold human security. If states are unable or unwilling to act, then the option for the international community to intervene remains.

We further argue that there is an urgent need for a reorientation of traditional international security norms from a focus that is primarily state-centric to one where human security has a much more prominent role in international relations. The hundreds of millions of killed, displaced and otherwise abused civilians require the international community to recognize the criticality of human security if we claim to live in an increasingly civil and moral world. More importantly, this requires substantive and direct action by states supported by the international community to ameliorate the suffering of those most in need. We acknowledge the extreme difficulty in trying to implement human security initiatives when states have either failed or are on the verge of failing, but we argue that R2P means much more than reacting to state dysfunctionality in this particular context. This also means that serious attention must be directed to prevention before these events occur and before the desperate need to protect arises.

Structure of the Text

We begin our work by engaging in a debate on the state security versus human security paradigm. This is done in an effort to contextualize then highlight some of the important differences between and within these concepts. The field of international relations has traditionally been dominated by a state-centric approach. This approach has focused on state security in terms of the sovereignty norm and the fundamental principle of nonintervention by external powers into the affairs of a sovereign state. The modern concept of state sovereignty is entrenched in customary international law derived from agreements between European states as part of the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) and then codified by the Montevideo Convention (1933). The Treaty of Westphalia recognized the supreme authority of the state within a system of equal and independent units as a way of establishing peace in Europe after thirty years of war. The sovereignty norm established the centralized authority of the state over its territories and citizens, reflecting the formality of evolving interstate relations.

Westphalian thinking is based on the principles of territory, autonomy, control and mutual recognition. These principles have developed into the primary analytical assumptions or constitutive norms to provide a benchmark for conceptualizing the theory and the reality of state sovereignty that has since passed into different instruments in law. Traditional ideas of realpolitik security were, and mostly still are, subsumed under the all-encompassing umbra of state self-survival, political influence and the extension of power. A range of international laws, conventions and protocols were developed to substantiate individual states' rights by a system of mutual responsibility between states. The Westphalian concept of sovereignty implies that each state is obliged to protect its citizens from harm, but throughout history the state frequently was the perpetrator of abuse against its own people. Many states were unwilling or unable to safeguard their citizens from fear and violence. The debates on genocide, torture, mass killing and systematic rape as strategic tools to defeat enemies of the state were portrayed as political events primarily within states rather than between states.

In the international relations of the twentieth century, the state sovereignty norm came to be institutionalized in the League of Nations and in the UN Charter (1945). Article 2(1) of the UN Charter affirms that 'the Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members'. Article 2(7) consolidates the sovereignty norm in international relations by prohibiting external interference in a state's domestic matters. The state sovereignty norm and the principle of nonintervention guided the international community throughout the Cold War period. This helped to institutionalize international relations in an attempt to provide order and stability between states. The traditional assumption of the state sovereignty norm and the nonintervention principle has been that a community of sovereign states will organize international order in an anarchic setting in order to protect each state's national interest and to safeguard the citizens of the state. However, the post–Cold War period fundamentally changed the international order and led to a debate on the application of the different norms and principles in international relations, particularly in relation to how states engaged with their own citizens.

From the 1990s, research on international relations, war and peace and security studies identified the growing problem of failing or failed states. These states are increasingly unable to uphold the core duties that define the sovereignty norms, but more importantly they neglect or deliberately disregard many of the fundamental needs and wants of their citizens. The impact on the domestic setting is that states on the verge of collapse have led to negative spillover effects in a regional context. During the twentieth century, more than 262 million people have been killed in intrastate wars, a number six times higher than the number of casualties from interstate wars perpetrated by foreign governments.

Symptomatic of what has become known as the 'failed state syndrome' is an inability to maintain law and order and the application of draconian responses to internal unrest by security forces and the military. Serious questions are raised about the fundamental legitimacy of corrupt and incompetent governments. Social disunity and a lack of reliable access to even the most basic human services such as electricity and clean drinking water contribute to civil unrest and dissatisfaction with government policies. Governments that are still able to function under these conditions react in different but mostly predictable ways. Responses include increasingly brutal suppression of dissent, martial law and a clampdown on the media and the public voice. Often there is specific targeting of various ethnic or cultural groups deemed to be barriers to the ambitions of the government or the ruling elite. The post–Cold War conflicts and the failed state syndrome have repeatedly shown that a myopic focus on the sovereignty norm is an assurance of neither human security nor state security. Previous research has identified the importance of human security in the form of prevention coupled with protection but the notion of prevention has not been well developed in the practical sense for a variety of reasons. This introductory chapter contextualizes state security, human security and the protection and prevention ethos. It introduces the central themes addressed throughout the book.

Chapter 2 focuses on the different yet conjoined nature of state security and human security thinking. The end of the Cold War, the many decades of globalization and interdependence and the diffusion and promotion of human security norms have led to the development of new perceptions on how the international order should look now and in the future. It is no longer considered to be the absolute right of any regime to abuse its people and misuse its power purely for its own ends. belligerents cannot simply assume impunity for their actions and the international community has a responsibility and obligation to intervene when states are unwilling or unable to effectively respond to human security. We highlight the differences in function and form between the responsibilities of statehood and the requirements of human security. both state and human security are important, but we argue that human security even at the most fundamental human level – freedom from fear and freedom from want – should be a priority if we claim to be striving towards a more civil and moral society.

Chapter 3 then addresses the evolution and development of R2P and the increasing need to be much more proactive by focusing not only on protection but also on what can be done regarding prevention. We argue that there is a need for a reorientation in thinking away from the traditional focus on state-centric security norms to one where human security and prevention initiatives have a much more prominent role in international relations. The 2001 articles on state responsibility, adopted by the International Law Commission (ILC) and supported overwhelmingly by the UN General Assembly, provide a formal agenda for dealing with states that breach their international obligations. For example, Article 12 on state responsibility declares, 'There is a breach of an international obligation by a State when an act of that State is not in conformity with what is required of it by that obligation, regardless of its origin or character.' Such an act may include one or more actions or omissions or a combination of both.


Excerpted from Responsibility to Protect and Prevent by John Janzekovic, Daniel Silander. Copyright © 2013 John Janzekovic and Daniel Silander. Excerpted by permission of Wimbledon Publishing Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

List of Maps; List of Abbreviations; Chapter 1: Introduction; Chapter 2: State versus Human Security: The Great Debate; Chapter 3: Responsibility: Protection and Prevention; Chapter 4: State Responsibility, Human Security and International Law; Chapter 5: Promoting Democratic Norms for Protection and Prevention Libya: Moving Principle into Action?; Chapter 7: Conclusion; Appendix I: S/RES/1970 United Nations Resolution 1970 on Africa (Including Annexes I–II); Appendix II: S/RES/1973 United Nations Resolution 1973 on the Situation in Libya (Excluding Annexes I–II); Notes; Bibliography; Index

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

‘Strongly grounded in contemporary theorizing on human security, this thoughtful, persuasive book presents a tightly argued and concise case for a more developed, humane and preemptive approach to the problems of large-scale violence and human security.’ —R. E. Elson, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Queensland

‘The argument of Janzekovic and Silander’s timely book is compelling: a focus on future-oriented prevention is far more desirable than the pyrrhic military victories that ultimately fail to protect those most at risk. The work is written in a lucid and erudite way, and will be essential reading for both policymakers and scholars of international relations.‘ —Craig McLean, Senior Lecturer in Politics, Northumbria University

‘Practitioners and theoreticians must still wrestle with the real-world applications of the responsibility to protect doctrine; what Janzekovic and Silander propose may seem straightforward, but the literature to date has not approached R2P in this manner, and that’s what makes this study particularly important.’ —Kirsten Nakjavani Bookmiller, Professor of Government and Political Affairs, Millersville University of Pennsylvania

‘The book’s practical approach and focus on what can be done rather than what cannot regarding the responsibility to protect and prevent makes it useful and informative for the student and the practitioner alike.’ —Hans Lödén, Associate Professor of Political Science, Karlstad University, Sweden

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews