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Keywords:

  • Responsibility to Protect;
  • humanitarian intervention;
  • just war;
  • human rights;
  • genocide;
  • mass atrocities

Abstract

This essay responds to Esther Reed's recent critique of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle in this journal. It argues that Reed fundamentally misunderstands and misrepresents R2P. Her critique of R2P would have served well as a critique of the earlier concept of humanitarian intervention had it been penned in the late 1990s. But most of the problems and dangers that Reed identifies are in reality the very problems and dangers that R2P seeks to overcome, and I suggest that it does overcome them quite successfully. R2P does not impose Western ideals on the rest of the world, weaken the legal restrictions on the use of force, or promote abusive interventionism. Rather, it offers a bold but carefully constructed framework that holds the promise of promoting the protection of vulnerable populations from mass atrocities.