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The responsibility to protect has succeeded humanitarian intervention as the primary conceptual framework within which to consider international intervention to prevent the commission of mass atrocity crimes. First conceived in 2001, the doctrine has obtained international recognition in a remarkably short time. Its acceptance by the UN World Summit of political leaders in 2005, and later by the UN Security Council, provided the foundation for its further elaboration in international relations theory and political practice. This chapter provides the background to the new doctrine's appearance with a survey of the existing law and practice with respect to humanitarian intervention. It traces the responsibility to protect's subsequent intellectual and political development both before and after the adoption of the World Summit resolutions that embodied it. This analysis discloses that debate about the doctrine has been characterized by significant differences of opinion and interpretation between nations of the North and the South. In that context, the chapter concludes with a detailed consideration of the contemporary standing of the doctrine in international law.


Thomas More Law School

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Book Chapter

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