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Mapping Dissent: The Responsibility to Protect and Its State Critics *

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Addressing dissent, also known as ‘rejectionism’, will broaden and deepen the global consensus on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle. However, how should scholars understand the objections raised by state critics? To answer this question, I analyse R2P opposition as presented in official UN transcripts, voting records, and resolutions. The article reveals that six related themes of dissent exist with varying degrees of emphasis amongst opponents. Conventional depictions of R2P opposition, such as the absolute sovereignty or North vs. South explanations, are therefore inadequate representations of the diverse range of arguments employed by dissenters. Ultimately, I conclude that in order to build consensus at the expense of dissent, the principle should be further developed around four key notions: 1) non-coercive prevention and domestic capacity building, 2) enhanced prudential criteria for intervention, 3) global norm entrepreneurship from the Global South, and 4) veto restraint in R2P scenarios.

Affiliations: 1: University of Toronto,


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