Evaluate the legal nature and significance of R2P. How far can R2P be considered an established norm? How has it modified the Chapter VII powers of the Security Council?

Topics: United Nations, United Nations Security Council, Responsibility to protect Pages: 13 (4280 words) Published: October 20, 2013
Introduction
This essay will begin by arguing that the responsibility to protect concept (hereafter R2P) is political in nature, not legal. The is mainly due to the lack of legal liability for the main body responsible for carrying out the duties of R2P, the Security Council, if it fails in those duties. Furthermore, the Security Council is not subject judicial review of actions that it does take. Critics of the concept argue that it can be used as a legitimate justification for states with imperialist intentions, which would make R2P a significantly dangerous tool in international relations. However, in reality R2P’s significance is not that great. The power to authorise military intervention remains with the Security Council, which is not legally bound to act. Even if it wishes to authorise measures against a country, it may be blocked by a veto vote from one of it’s five permanent members. Therefore R2P’s weak legal nature clearly affects it’s significance as a concept. The essay will then move on to argue that the principles upon which the R2P concept is based are established norms of international law. However, it is the first time these principles have been brought together under one concept (R2P) and therefore, the concept itself is an emerging norm. It will finish by arguing that although the Security Council now has a wider power to interpret international situations as being a ‘threat to the peace’ and therefore deserving of military intervention, the concept has not modified Chapter VII powers of the Security Council enough. If the concept is to have any significant and positive effect on the international community then the permanent five members of the Council must abstain from using their veto powers. Context

Following non-intervention in Rwanda1 and Srebrenica on the grounds that it was an ‘unacceptable’ impeachment on sovereignty, the international community was challenged by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to reach an agreement on how to ‘respond to... gross and systematic violations of human rights.’2 In response to this, Gareth Evans and Mohamed Sahnoun spearheaded the development of the R2P concept and delivered their recommendations in the 2001 ICISS report3 which to tackle the problems with humanitarian intervention and state sovereignty. It proposed changing the idea of state sovereignty from being about ‘power’, to ‘responsibility.’4 This responsibility is primarily the responsibility for the protection of the state’s people by the host state. If the host state fails in this responsibility then the responsibility is shared by the wider international community. The ICISS catagorised the term ‘R2P’ into three pillars: a responsibility to prevent, to react and to rebuild.5 In 2004 the Commission’s proposals were integrated into the Report by the High-Level Panel on Threats Challenges and Change,6 where it was recommended that R2P be understood as an ‘emerging norm,’7 which in this essay’s view is not a wholly accurate label. After this, the concept was again embraced by the UN Secretary-General’s “In Larger Freedom”8 report. It’s most significant incorporation was in the 2005 World Summit Outcome9 where the discussions of the UN members were organised into a summary of the concept in paragraphs 138 and 139 of the document.10 This essay will examine these documents in order to evaluate the concept’s legal nature, significance, the extent to which it is an emerging norm and the changes it has brought to the Chapter VII powers of the Security Council. Legal Nature of Responsibility to Protect

For the concept of R2P to have a legal nature, as opposed to a political one, the bodies which have the responsibility of carrying out the duties of the concept must be held legally accountable for their actions or inactions. Article 24 of the Charter sees the Security Council as having the ‘primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.’11 Therefore, the ICISS considered that...

Bibliography: Brownlie I, Principles of International Law, 8th Edn, Oxford University Press (2012)
Cohen J, One-hundred Days of Silence: America and the Rwanda Genocide, 1st Edn, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (2006)
Deng F M, Kimaro S, Lyons T, Rothchild D and Zartman W, Sovereignty as responsibility: conflict management in Africa, Brookings Institution Press (1996)
Evans G and Sahnoun M, ‘The Responsibility to Protect’ [2002] Foreign Affairs, Vol.81, No.6, 99
4.) Other
Annan Kofi, “‘We the Peoples’ The Roles of the United Nations in the 21st Century’, Chapter IV ‘Freedom From Fear’ Report (2000)
Alverez J, ‘The Schizophrenias of R2P’ (Panel Presentation, Hague Joint Conference on Contemporary Issues of International Law: Criminal Jurisdiction 100 Years After the 1907 Hague Peace Conference, The Netherlands, 30 June 2007)
ICISS Report 2001
Security Council Resolutions, accessed via
Straw J, ‘We are in Iraq to Bring about Democracy,’ (Labour Party Conference, Brighton, 28 September 2005), accessed 7th May 2013
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