The Responsibility to Protect in Libya and Syria - The future of international law or an abuse of power?

Detta är en Kandidat-uppsats från Lunds universitet/Juridiska fakulteten; Lunds universitet/Juridiska institutionen

Sammanfattning: The Responsibility to Protect, or “R2P”, is a principle that has generated heated debate since its introduction in a report by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) in 2001. Having received an enthusiastic response from member states at the World Summit Outcome in 2005, the United Nations seemed to move into a new era of protecting humanitarian values; that of acting to protect the citizens of states when the states themselves proved unwilling or unable to do so. However, the practical application of R2P has raised questions about its meaning and normativity. This essay explores the meaning and use of R2P in regards to two situations: The Libyan uprising and Syrian Civil War of 2011. The essay departs from the mainstream ways of understanding R2P, studying the reasons for inaction and action by the international community in Libya and Syria from a postcolonial perspective. The essay also incorporates the understanding of R2P as a guarantor of political authority, and as such, as a tool to authorize humanitarian intervention into its perspective. Having outlined each countries’ historical context, the reasons for action and inaction from the international community are then analyzed by conducting a methodological comparison with the main features of postcolonial theory. The investigation demonstrated that the use – and lack of use – of R2P in regards to Syria and Libya have strong connections to postcolonial features: the notion of statehood; the imperialist view of the target state as the primitive, uncivilized ‘Other’; the socioeconomic condition and the relationship with the West and influential powers within the international community. As a result of the investigation, questions are raised about R2P as a potential instrument for an abuse of power, or whether the notion still has potential to become a future norm of international law.

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