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The Viability of the "Responsibility to Prevent"

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Hehir, Aidan

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Abstract The efficacy of the Responsibility to Prevent suffers from two key problems; causal indeterminacy, and a dependence on the political will of states, particularly the permanent five members of the Security Council. The vast array of factors which can be cited as potentially contributing to the outbreak of conflict and atrocity crimes mitigates against the determination of definite “conflict triggers”. This does not mean prevention is impossible but does limit the efficacy of "early warning systems". The dynamics of the "four crimes" within R2P's purview further limits the efficacy of prevention as the decision to engage in mass atrocities is taken in response to a perceived existential crisis. This significantly limits the scope for leveraging the "internal" aspect of R2P as the decision to commit these acts is invariably born from a belief that no other option is available to the potential aggressors. Thus the specifics of atrocity crime prevention places great emphasis on the operationalisation of the external dimension of R2P, namely the role of the international community. So long as the response of the "international community" is predicated on the political will of states, however, the efficacy of prevention in these areas will be limited, as the "international" response is prey to narrowly defined national interests. (author's abstract)
Keywords genocide; massacre; civil war; ethnic conflict; political conflict; military intervention; political intervention; UNO; UN Security Council; protecting power; prevention; capacity to act; results measurement; political instrument; nation state; pressure-group politics; conflict of interest
Classification Peace and Conflict Research, International Conflicts, Security Policy; International Relations, International Politics, Foreign Affairs, Development Policy
Free Keywords Responsibility to Protect; R2P
Document language English
Publication Year 2015
Page/Pages p. 85-97
Journal Politics and Governance, 3 (2015) 3
Issue topic Mass Atrocity Prevention (Part I)
ISSN 2183-2463
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution