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Strengthening the Norms of Global Responsibility: Structural Violence in Relation to Internal Displacement and Statelessness

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image of Global Responsibility to Protect

Norms of global responsibility have changed significantly since the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and today’s international community critically considers responsibilities within and beyond state borders, as evidenced by the adoption of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine. From this starting point, protection must be extended to large populations susceptible to structural violence - social harms resulting from the pervasive and persistent impact of economic, political and cultural violence in societies. In order to show the potential of expanded conceptions of global responsibility, this article proceeds as follows: First, a discussion of the evolving concepts of responsibility outlines a shift in thinking about sovereignty that creates a multilayered system of responsibility. This section defines key concepts and highlights an ‘unbundled R2P’ framework for approaching structural violence. Second, an overview of two vulnerable populations - internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the stateless - illustrates that large-scale cases of state abuse and neglect are not limited to acts of physical violence, and that pervasive structural violence requires further attention from the international community. Lastly, recommendations are provided for expanding the scope of global responsibility in order to assist the internally displaced and the stateless. These recommendations address who is responsible, when global responsibility is warranted, and how such responsibility should be implemented.


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