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Arguing Matters

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The Responsibility to Protect and the Case of Libya

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This article analyses international negotiations over the 2011 Libyan crisis during the short weeks between the start of the uprising and the passage and implementation of un Security Council Resolution 1973. We make two arguments: first, following Risse, we demonstrate how and when argumentation around the humanitarian norm of protecting civilians mattered in these debates; second, we show that failure on the part of the supporters of the intervention on humanitarian grounds to maintain consistent and genuine argumentation in relation to that mandate is a key factor in explaining the subsequent lack of agreement about collective action inside the Security Council. We conclude that the lesson that arguing mattered in relation to Libya has been insufficiently appreciated, but needs to be better understood in order to facilitate the future traction of the RtoP norm in international negotiations.

Affiliations: 1: University of Queensland,; 2: University of Queensland,


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