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A Clash of Responsibilities: Engaging with Realist Critiques of the R2P

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In a post-R2P world, policymakers are not only confronted by the real life challenge of mass atrocity crimes but are also faced with a variety of voices offering alternative ways for framing the problems involved. The dominance of realism in 20th century political discourse puts forward the view that states do not have a moral obligation to protect the citizens of other states. As a result, the R2P remains just another policy option, one that should only be opted for when national interests are at stake. From this perspective, the national responsibility that states have to their citizens clashes with the international responsibility to protect populations the world over from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing. Accordingly, this clash of responsibilities exposes a series of complexities regarding morality, power, survival, security, sovereignty, and order to name just a few. With this in mind, this paper engages with realist critiques in order to create a constructive conversation to help show areas of agreement and disagreement which will provide us with a more informed understanding of the challenges that face R2P implementation.


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