Military intervention for human protection raises a number of difficult questions. Should military force be used, across state borders, to prevent or stop egregious human suffering, without the consent of the state in which these human rights abuses are taking place? Under what legal, political or moral authority should such intervention be taken, and by which actors? These questions relate to the most controversial aspect of R2P: the commitment of states to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their populations from R2P crimes. Our research and policy analysis explores how and when – and under what circumstances – military intervention may play a role in the operationalization of R2P. It explores recent and ongoing challenges related to military intervention – in cases such as Libya, Syria, Mali and the Central African Republic – and the controversies raised by this aspect of R2P in a changing international order. A key question is whether military intervention can, in practice, remain a part of the repertoire of human protection, or whether the controversies of intervention will continue to raise doubts about the legitimacy of the R2P principle more broadly.
Peacekeeping is a form of non-coercive intervention that is important to the R2P agenda in a number of ways. Mass atrocities are more likely to occur in situations of ongoing armed conflict, and therefore international assistance aimed at resolving violence and building peace is a direct form of atrocity prevention. In addition, armed conflicts, once brought to an end, have a high incidence of recurrence, and so international assistance is critical on an ongoing basis, until societies are firmly on the road to peace. However, the presence of international peacekeepers has not always prevented the perpetration of atrocities – and in a small number of cases, peacekeepers have been accused of serious human rights abuses. Our research in this area focuses on a range of key questions: To what extent is R2P integrated into peacekeeping doctrine and practice? At a time of peak peacekeeping activity (with over 100,000 personnel currently deployed) is the demand for peacekeepers being effectively met? Are peacekeeping operations adequately attuned to the warning signs of atrocities, in line with the UN’s Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes? Have recent peacekeeping deployments had a positive impact in reducing incidence of war crimes and other atrocities?
Research papers and recent publications in this area:
Ralph J, Gifkins J, Jarvis S. (2019). The UK’s Special Responsibilities at the United Nations: Diplomatic Practice in Normative Context. British Journal of Politics and International Relations.
Ralph J, Holland J, Zhekova K. (2017). Before the vote: UK foreign policy discourse on Syria 2011-2013. Review of International Studies. 43(5), pp. 875-897
Ralph J, Gifkins J. (2017) The purpose of United Nations Security Council practice: Contesting competence claims in the normative context created by the Responsibility to Protect. European Journal of International Relations. 23(3), pp. 630-653
Aloyo, E. (2016). “Reconciling Just Causes for Armed Humanitarian Intervention.” Ethical Theory and Moral Practice. 19 (2): 313-328
Aloyo, E. (2015). “Just War Theory and The Last of Last Resort.” Ethics & International Affairs. 29 (2): 187-201. (Link, PDF copyright by Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs)
Aloyo, E. (2013). “Just Assassinations.” International Theory. 5 (3): 347-381. (Link, PDF copyright by Cambridge University Press)
Stefan, CG. (2011) Humanitarian Intervention and the Responsibility to Protect: Security and Human Rights. London: Routledge (published as Cristina G. Badescu).
Stefan, CG. (2010) “Canada’s Continuing Engagement with United Nations Peace Operations” Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, Vol. 16, Issue 2, pp. 45-60 (published as Cristina G. Badescu).
Stefan, CG. (2010) “The African Union,” in David Black and Paul D. Williams, eds., The International Politics of Mass Atrocities: The Case of Darfur. London: Routledge (with Linnea Bergholm, and published as Cristina G. Badescu).
Stefan, CG. (2009) “The Responsibility to Protect and the Conflict in Darfur: The Big Let-down.” Security Dialogue, Vol. 40, Issue 3, pp. 287-309 (with Linnea Bergholm, and published as Cristina G. Badescu).