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Genocide Prevention and Western National Security: the Limitations of Making R2P All About Us

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Hiebert, Maureen S.

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Abstract The case for turning R2P and genocide prevention from principle to practice usually rests on the invocation of moral norms and duties to others. Calls have been made by some analysts to abandon this strategy and "sell" genocide prevention to government by framing it as a matter of our own national interest including our security. Governments' failure to prevent atrocities abroad, it is argued, imperils western societies at home. If we look at how the genocide prevention- as-national security argument has been made we can see, however, that this position is not entirely convincing. I review two policy reports that make the case for genocide prevention based in part on national security considerations: Preventing Genocide: A Blue Print for U.S. Policymakers (Albright-Cohen Report); and the Will to Intervene Project. I show that both reports are problematic for two reasons: the "widened" traditional security argument advocated by the authors is not fully substantiated by the evidence provided in the reports; and alternate conceptions of security that would seem to support the linking of genocide prevention to western security - securitization and risk and uncertain - do not provide a solid logical foundation for operationalizing R2P. I conclude by considering whether we might appeal instead to another form of self interest, "reputational stakes", tied to western states’ construction of their own identity as responsible members of the international community. (author's abstract)
Keywords security policy; humanitarian intervention; military intervention; political intervention; international security; national identity; humanitarianism; social norm; orientation; sense of responsibility; Western world; protecting power; UNO; prevention; genocide; national security
Classification International Relations, International Politics, Foreign Affairs, Development Policy; Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture; Peace and Conflict Research, International Conflicts, Security Policy
Free Keywords Responsibility to Protect; R2P
Document language English
Publication Year 2015
Page/Pages p. 12-25
Journal Politics and Governance, 3 (2015) 4
Issue topic Mass Atrocity Prevention (Part II)
ISSN 2183-2463
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution