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Responsibility to Protect

ISBN: 978-0-7456-4347-2
268 pages
January 2009, Polity
Responsibility to Protect (0745643477) cover image


At the 2005 UN World Summit, world leaders endorsed the international principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P), acknowledging that they had a responsibility to protect their citizens from genocide and mass atrocities and pledging to act in cases where governments manifestly failed in their responsibility. This marked a significant turning point in attitudes towards the protection of citizens worldwide.

This important new book charts the emergence of this principle, from its origins in a doctrine of sovereignty as responsibility, through debates about the legitimacy of humanitarian intervention and the findings of a prominent international commission, and finally through the long and hard negotiations that preceded the 2005 commitment. It explores how world leaders came to acknowledge that sovereign rights entailed fundamental responsibilities and what that acknowledgment actually means. The book goes on to analyze in detail the ways in which R2P can contribute to the global effort to end genocide and mass atrocities. Focusing on the prevention of these crimes and the improvement of the world’s reaction to them, the book explores the question of how to build sustainable peace in their aftermath. Alex J. Bellamy argues that although 2005 marked an important watershed, much more work is needed to defend R2P from those who would walk away from their commitments and – in the words of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – to translate the principle ‘from words into deeds’.

This fascinating book will appeal to students and scholars of international relations, international affairs, human rights and humanitarian emergencies, as well as anyone concerned about the protection of civilians on a global scale

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements viii

Abbreviations xii

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Sovereignty and Human Rights 8

Chapter 2 The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty 35

Chapter 3 The 2005 World Summit 66

Chapter 4 Prevention 98

Chapter 5 Reaction 132

Chapter 6 Rebuilding 167

Conclusion 195

Notes 200

Bibliography 223

Index 236

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Author Information

Alexander Bellamy is Professor of International Security in the Griffith Asia Institute/Centre for Governance and Public Policy at Griffith University.
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The Wiley Advantage

  • Groundbreaking new book which looks at the very recent and controversial concept of Responsibility to Protect (R2P)
  • Alex Bellamy is a rising star in the field of International Relations and his previous books have been very well received
  • The book charts the emergence of the principle from its political and philosophical origins to its use in the contemporary world
  • Completely up-to-date with recent developments, including a preface added at a late stage to deal with the current crisis in Burma
  • R2P is one of the most important and widely discussed topics in global politics and this book is the first major work which fully considers its impact and implications
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"A superb scholarly analysis of the concept. This is the resource for a detailed account of how R2P came to be, and an evaluation of its strengths and weaknesses. Bellamy begins by detailing the history of R2P, from its intellectual origins to its adoption by the UN in 2005. He does so in tremendous detail, drawing on a wealth of sources in providing the life-story of the concept likely to provide insight to even its keenest followers."
Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding

"Its clear and accessible style, as well as its meticulous discussion of the R2P's historical and political context, is well integrated into an analysis of the practical side of genocide prevention and peacekeeping."
Times Higher Education

"A fast-paced and illuminating account of international policy formation. In the literature of humanitarian history, Bellamy's account of the development of R2P is thus a worthy stable mate to Geoffrey Best's classic account of the development of international humanitarian law after 1945."
International Affairs

"Responsibility to Protect is an important and accessible treatment of one of the key recent political shifts in the contemporary internaional system, and as such should find a place on the bookshelf of anyone interested in the manner in which international relations is prosecuted in the new millenium."
Political Studies Review

"A clear, in-depth and analytical overview of the theoretical and practical dimensions of the R2P concept and norm in international relations. This book comes highly recommended."
Central European Journal of International and Security Studies

"Lucid, thoughtful, and eminently sensible, Alex Bellamy's Responsibility to Protect: The Global Effort to End Mass Atrocities should be must reading for scholars, commentators, and practitioners alike. He chronicles both the evolution of the principle and the struggles to put it into practice with a rare combination of rigorous scholarship, sophisticated analysis, and engaging prose."
Edward Luck, Columbia University

"Alex Bellamy's is a thoughtful and critical tale of efforts to remove the license to kill from the sovereign attributes of states. A Responsibility to Protect also explains brilliantly the politics of why necessary normative advances have, to date, not ended mass atrocity crimes."
Thomas G. Weiss, City University of New York

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