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Challenges for Humanitarian InterventionEthical Demand and Political Reality$
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C. A. J. Coady, Ned Dobos, and Sagar Sanyal

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198812852

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198812852.001.0001

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‘Words Lying on the Table’?

‘Words Lying on the Table’?

Norm Contestation and the Diminution of the Responsibility to Protect

(p.165) 8 ‘Words Lying on the Table’?
Challenges for Humanitarian Intervention

Aidan Hehir

Oxford University Press

This chapter laments that the Responsibility to Protect has become nothing more than ‘a largely ineffective empty signifier’: it may have found its way into state discourse, but it has not meaningfully influenced state behaviour. This is the result of R2P having been ‘co-opted’ over time: parties hostile to the norm have publicly endorsed it, but worked to redirect and manipulate its evolution so that the norm has come to serve their interests and values. Hehir argues that the BRICS countries, and especially Russia, have succeeded in almost entirely expunging Pillar III; the part of the R2P doctrine that calls on the international community to intervene and protect human rights where sovereign states cannot or will not. Without Pillar III, however, we are left with a rendering of R2P that makes no provisions for its actual enforcement. All we have is another high-sounding rhetorical device.

Keywords:   Co-option, Russia, Pillar III, BRICS countries, R2P enforcement

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