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Reflections on the Peacekeeping Failure in Darfur: Is There Any Substance to the 'Responsibility to Protect'?

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This paper examines the failure of the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS) to provide protection to civilians in Darfur, and considers the relevance, in this context, of the emerging doctrine of responsibility to protect. It is argued that while the existence of the responsibility to protect has been widely endorsed, there has been relatively scant attention paid to its content. In the context of the AMIS intervention in Darfur, this paper considers the question of what the responsibility to protect actually entails: for peace-support operations, for the states that send them, and most importantly, for the civilian population that expects to be protected by the soldiers sent to protect them. Because the responsibility to protect (as described by the International Commission on State Sovereignty (ICISS) and endorsed by the UN Secretary General, the General Assembly and the Security Council) says little as to positive obligations, such as might require peacesupport operations to actively protect, this paper considers whether there are obligations that can be drawn from international human rights or international humanitarian law that may assist in locating a substantive content for the responsibility to protect. It is suggested, in conclusion, that it is in the law of occupation that we come closest to finding a legal responsibility to protect.


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