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Responsibilities to Protect

Perspectives in Theory and Practice

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Following the humanitarian horrors of the 1990s, the international community began to seek consensus on a new norm to help address the tension between upholding the sovereign right of states to administer their own internal affairs, and the pressing need for civilian populations to be protected from their own government in certain situations. The result was the responsibility to protect initiative from the UN, accepted as an emerging norm and based on existing legal structures although not itself necessarily accepted as law. This volume looks not only at the humanitarian-inspired interventions of the past 15 years, such as those that took place under the Force for Good banner of the UK Government under New Labour, but also looks at what this has meant for the people actually involved in doing them. What responsibilities do states have towards their own soldiers when sending them to protect ‘other’ people? Should that responsibility extend to moral and psychological protection as well as physical protection, and if so, how? How far does the duty go when considering the protection of one’s own citizens who have deliberately placed themselves in harm’s way, such as journalists who have chosen to leave the safety of a protected area? What happens when institutions are faced with the choice of protecting their people or their reputation? What does it feel like for the inhabitants of a state who become ‘protected’ by the international community?

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