R2P & Norm Theory

Project synopsis:

R2P is a norm to the extent it identifies a standard of appropriate behavior for states and international society more generally.  As such it has been examined in the context of the ‘norm life-cycle’ theory associated with constructivist International Relations theory.  This traces the progress of a norm from its articulation by ‘norm entrepreneurs’ through various stages of norm diffusion to a point where it is internalized by a state, and norm consistent practice becomes habitual and taken for granted.  Our research critically assesses the usefulness of this approach for R2P studies.  For example, R2P is a ‘complex norm’ and this makes it difficult to identify when it has been ‘internalized’.  To the extent particular practices have proven useful in preventing atrocities one can identify practices that should be acted on as a matter of course.  We can identify R2P consistent behaviour in terms of how well these practices are internalized.  At another level, however, in response to ongoing atrocities for instance, R2P is indeterminate by design. It calls for a case-by-case approach and that can justify inconsistency of response.  Indeed it demands deliberation and judgment rather than habitualized practice.  In this way, assessing state response to atrocity and the way in which the R2P norm (and its various meanings in use legitimize that) is a more demanding process than is suggest current constructivist research.

Research papers and recent publications in this area:

Aloyo, E. (2014). “The Weak Persuading the Powerful: Norm Diffusion and Enforcement, Without Internalization.” In Reducing Armed Violence with NGO Governance. Rodney Bruce Hall (Ed.). Routledge Global Institutions Series. pp. 114-130

Ralph, J. (2017) ‘What should be done? Pragmatic constructivism and the Responsibility to Protect’, working paper, presented at the International Studies Association, February 2017.

Stefan CG. (2017) “On non-Western norm shapers: Brazil and the Responsibility while Protecting”, European Journal of International Security, 2 (1), pp. 88 – 110.

Ralph, J. and Gifkins J. (2016) ‘The purpose of Security Council practice. Assessing competence claims in the normative context created by R2P’, European Journal of International Relations online October 2016.

Ralph, J. (2016) ‘The Responsibility to Protect and the rise of China: lessons from Australia’s role as a ‘pragmatic’ norm entrepreneur’ International Relations of the Asia-Pacific online May 2016.

Stefan, CG. (2010) “Misrepresenting R2P and Advancing Norms: An Alternative Spiral?” International Studies Perspectives, Vol. 11, Issue 4, pp. 354-374 (with Thomas Weiss, and published as Cristina G. Badescu).

Stefan, CG. (2014) “The Evolution of International Responsibility: from Responsibility to Protect to Responsibility While Protecting,” International Studies Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 1, Summer 2014, pp. 45-77 (published as Cristina Badescu).

Stefan, CG. (2016)  “Brazil and the Responsibility While Protecting Initiative: Norms and the Timing of Diplomatic Support” Global Governance, 22 (1), pp. 41-58 (with Kai Michael Kenkel).