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R2P's Missing Link, Culture

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image of Global Responsibility to Protect

Culture has been absent from analyses and debates about the responsibility to protect (R2P) norm. The use of the military to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya and to protect civilians took place with support from the local population and more widely across the Arab World even when the dominant 'culture' supposedly made outside interference unthinkable. As R2P enters its second decade, a deeper understanding of culture is desirable, as is the incorporation of cultural perspectives in framing responses to mass atrocities. UN debates and resolutions have helped dispel myths about R2P and reaffirmed its validity as a universal norm that is close to a 'tipping point'. Instead of an 'emerging' norm (the original contention in 2001 by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty), R2P has 'emerged' as consensus continues to widen and deepen across the North and the global South. This essay shares insights from research about cultural perspectives in the global South from local researchers who explore three themes (religion and spirituality, philosophy and ethics, and art and aesthetics) and three country cases (Rwanda, Kosovo, and Nepal).


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