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Full Access Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in Libya: Ghosts of the Past Haunting the Future *

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Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in Libya: Ghosts of the Past Haunting the Future *

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In revisiting a selection of the literature about this topic, this article briefly considers the historical development of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and the gap between legality and legitimacy it is designed to bridge. It goes on to critically reflect upon its application in Libya, arguing that R2P is posed as a simple solution to a complex problem. It considers how this intervention represents the culmination of a legal trajectory that finds it origins in colonialism. While it remains a rhetorically compelling legal doctrine, it falls apart in practice. Such an outcome behoves international legal thinkers to reflect upon the normative value of the doctrine and critically consider humanitarian objectives when they are used to justify war. At present, failure to do so is gravely undermining the legitimacy and universality of international law. If international legal thinkers are genuinely committed to upholding universal human rights principles, an alternative must be to create consistency in how crimes against humanity are defined and acted upon. The example of Libya raises fundamental questions as to the capacity of international law to create pathways to peace and justice.

Affiliations: 1: Public Interest Litigator, Australia, lizzie.oshea@gmail.com

10.1163/22131035-00101010
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In revisiting a selection of the literature about this topic, this article briefly considers the historical development of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and the gap between legality and legitimacy it is designed to bridge. It goes on to critically reflect upon its application in Libya, arguing that R2P is posed as a simple solution to a complex problem. It considers how this intervention represents the culmination of a legal trajectory that finds it origins in colonialism. While it remains a rhetorically compelling legal doctrine, it falls apart in practice. Such an outcome behoves international legal thinkers to reflect upon the normative value of the doctrine and critically consider humanitarian objectives when they are used to justify war. At present, failure to do so is gravely undermining the legitimacy and universality of international law. If international legal thinkers are genuinely committed to upholding universal human rights principles, an alternative must be to create consistency in how crimes against humanity are defined and acted upon. The example of Libya raises fundamental questions as to the capacity of international law to create pathways to peace and justice.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22131035-00101010
2012-01-01
2016-12-05

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