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The Responsibility to Protect: A Wide or Narrow Conception?

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Chapter Summary

Since the emergence of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), academics have debated the relative merits of different ways of conceiving the principle. Some have preferred to limit the application of the principle to the four crimes (genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity); whilst others have suggested that the principle could be applied to a range of other human security problems. This chapter briefly sets out the meaning and scope of R2P. It examines calls for widening the principle to cover a broader range of human security problems and identifies key problems, using the international response to Cyclone Nargis in 2008 as an example. The chapter provides some interim evidence to suggest that R2P's narrow focus helps it to add value to human protection. Finally, it offers the logic of 'sovereignty as responsibility' as an alternative framework for those wanting to pursue a broader human security agenda.

Keywords: crime against humanity; cyclone Nargis; ethnic cleansing; genocide; human security; Responsibility to Protect (R2P); war crime



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