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The responsibility to protect : no more Rwandas : the international community and humanitarian intervention in the 21st century


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Potter, DW (2006) The responsibility to protect : no more Rwandas : the international community and humanitarian intervention in the 21st century. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Humanitarian intervention lies at the fault-line in international relations between the principles of international law and state sovereignty (pluralism) on the one hand, and morality and the protection of human rights (solidarism) on the other. Whereas the pluralist international-society theory defines humanitarian intervention as a violation of the cardinal rules of order, it is being challenged by the solidarist view, that seeks to strengthen the legitimacy of the international community by developing its commitment to justice. As a result, a solidarist international community is one in which states accept a moral responsibility to protect the security, not only of their own citizens, but of humanity everywhere. The humanitarian tragedies in Somalia, Rwanda and Srebrenica in the 1990s and in Darfur currently, have highlighted to the international community the need for the notion of sovereignty to be re-defined, to permit intervention in support of the emerging norm of the responsibility to protect. In the 21st century, a state that violates the fundamental norms of human rights by failing to provide for the safety, security and well-being of its citizens creates a legal and moral burden on the international community to act. This dissertation contends that the international community has a legal and moral responsibility to intervene to prevent humanitarian emergencies. To test the veracity of this thesis, it was assessed against a number of case studies that span India's intervention into East Pakistan in 1971 to the ongoing crisis in Darfur in 2006. While many aspects of humanitarian intervention remain contentious this dissertation found that there is a trend towards the solidarist approach that is reflected in the emerging international norm of the "responsibility to protect". Further, it confirmed that the most successful interventions involve a range of actors, usually, the United Nations and/or a regional organisation, backed by a hegemonic power. Finally, it found that a successful humanitarian intervention is dependent upon the international community's commitment to understanding the gravity of the situation at hand and, if necessary, confronting the Westphalian tradition of sovereignty, to provide the appropriate institutional support and resources, and the political will to mobilise that capacity in the face of other priorities and preoccupations.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: international relations, protection of human rights, international law, state sovereignty, humanitarian tragedies, Somalia, Rwanda, Srebrenica, Darfur
Journal or Publication Title: xx
Collections: University of Tasmania > University of Tasmania Theses
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2007
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 03:19
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