School of Politics and International Studies

Responsibility to Protect Student Journal

Volume 1, Issue No. 2

Dear Reader,

We are excited to share with you the second issue of the R2P Student Journal.

As Dr. Adrian Gallagher states in his introduction to this issue that the purpose of the Journal is to ‘raise questions, issues and concerns facing the R2P’ in its second decade. He identifies four research agendas where students can contribute: climate change and mass violence, the new UN Secretary-General, changing power balances, and the rise in non-state armed groups. To these, we add: gender and R2P, and the relationship between R2P and international criminal justice, particularly the International Criminal Court (ICC). Two articles in this issue focus on this important issue.

Enyeribe Oguh examines the scope and limits of the ICC and looks at mechanisms that can remedy some of the criticisms the ICC faces – primarily the lack of universal jurisdiction, its bias against Africa, and the AU’s response to this perceived bias. As Oguh emphasises, the ICC’s lack of universal jurisdiction means that investigations in places such as Yemen, Syria and Iraq depend on the UN Security Council’s political calculations. Addressing this, Oguh identifies two possible solutions for the ICC to become ‘more than a howling Rottweiler or … just a vexing elephant in the room’.

Oguh’s argument paves the way to Georgiana Epure’s article on the relationship between R2P and the responsibility to prosecute. There exists a complementary relationship between these two responsibilities, which share the goal of protecting people from mass atrocity crimes. However, as Epure argues, this mixture of political and judicial measures may work against this common goal when R2P and the responsibility to prosecute are used simultaneously as conflict management tools in on-going crises.

Moving away from the ICC and towards conceptual questions of the R2P, Joseph Jegat discusses the normative status of R2P, a ‘complex norm with a contested nature’. Examining Pillar III, Jegat argues that ‘contestation is both a normal and beneficial part of R2P’s global diffusion’, examining Brazil’s ‘Responsibility while Protecting’ and China’s ‘Responsible Protection’ concepts.

Caitlyn Duke also analyses R2P’s Pillar III, assessesing the success of NATO’s intervention in Libya. Focusing on NATO’s interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution 1973, she concludes that the success of the first military intervention without host state consent was undermined by the underlying goal of regime change and the lack of post-conflict rebuilding.

We hope you find this second issue of the Journal both interesting and useful, and we look forward to receiving further submissions in the future. In particular, we encourage students to think and write about the research agendas outlined above.

Georgiana Epure and Dominique Fraser


  • The Responsibility to Protect: Four Challenges on the Road Ahead

    The second issue of the R2P Student Journal provides an apt moment to consider the key issues, questions, and challenges that will face the Responsibility to Protect in the second decade since the World Summit Outcome in 2005. The purpose here is not to provide answers as such but instead to raise questions, issues and concerns facing the R2P in the 21st century. The reason for this is that because this is a student-led journal, I thought I would take this opportunity to identify four research agendas where future MA and Ph.D. students can contribute something significant, timely, and rigorous on the discourse.

  • The International Criminal Court: A Shackled Elephant in the Court Room?

    The establishment of the International Criminal Court (Court) signals a new order in the international criminal justice system. It inaugurates a novel era that seeks to eradicate impunity from the face of the earth. In contrast to the many ad hoc tribunals of the past era, the Court is permanent and commands a broad and widening jurisdiction. Unfortunately, the Court still lacks universal jurisdiction, and, thus, it is unable to intervene or to consider situations outside its statutory range without external influence and authorisation. This, in addition to a growing perception in some quarters that the Court is selectively biased against weaker states, has locked the Court in endless controversies. This paper examines some of these debates and then considers some concrete measures the Court can take to tackle a number of the valid criticisms.

  • The Responsibility to Protect and the Responsibility to Prosecute

    There are few occurrences that bind states and make them aware of their common values. The protection of populations from mass atrocities that shock the conscience of humankind is one of them. This article looks at states’ and the international community’s responsibilities to protect (R2P) and prosecute. The article argues that these two responsibilities have a complementary relationship, as they share the same goal of protecting people from gross human rights violations. However, this relationship, a mixture of political and judicial measures, can work against that goal when R2P and the responsibility to prosecute are used simultaneously as conflict management tools in on-going crises.

  • A Norm-in-Formation? An Analysis of Brazil and China’s Normative Engagement with the Responsibility to Protect

    The question of whether the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is an established norm in international relations has been the subject of much academic debate in recent years. This essay will argue that R2P is best described not as a fully established norm, but as a ‘norm-in-formation’ (Negron-Gonzalez and Contarino, 2014). It reaches this conclusion based on three assessments of R2P, which will be the focus of this essay, and are as follows. First, that R2P is a complex norm with a contested nature, which prevents it from being fully internalised by states. Second, that contestation surrounding R2P’s Pillar III can actually help to consolidate and further establish the norm. Third, that Brazil and China are engaging with R2P in a way that contributes to its normative formation and establishment in international relations.


  • The Responsibility to Protect in the Libyan Intervention: Ultimate Success or International Failure?

    The 2011 intervention in Libya was the first time the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) authorised the use of force, couched in the norm of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), against the wishes of a functioning state. This application of R2P, implemented through UNSC Resolution 1973 and led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), was ultimately a failure. Although the NATO forces succeeded in protecting Libyan civilians from the violent regime, the motivations behind the intervention were not aligned with the ideological principles of the R2P norm, as NATO intervened with the intention to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi’s authoritarian regime. This paper will seek to first explain the R2P norm, followed by a consideration of the political environment within which it was applied in Libya in 2011. It will conclude with a critical analysis of NATO’s interpretation of UNSC Resolution 1973.

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