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International Law and Collective Concerns: Reflections on the Responsibility to Protect

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the remarkable rise of the responsibility to protect vulnerable populations from grave human rights abuses. It places the responsibility to protect in a wider legal context. The chapter begins with a brief review of the concepts of jus cogens and norms erga omnes, and of the law of State responsibility as it pertains to these collective interest categories. Against this backdrop, it then traces the emergence of the responsibility to protect and examines its key features. Finally, the chapter suggests that, when the elements of the norm are mapped onto the general structure of international law, its trajectory can be understood as part of a broader, albeit still fragile, normative evolution towards a better balance between sovereignty and collective concerns.

Keywords: collective concerns; international law; jus cogens; norms erga omnes; sovereignty



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