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Constructing the responsibility to protect

Pollentine, Marc 2012. Constructing the responsibility to protect. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Debate about how populations can be protected from mass atrocities is well-established in international affairs. Beset with a raft of ethical, legal, political and normative questions, the rapid development of the ‘responsibility to protect’ has been held up as evidence of emerging, and even settled, consensus in this area. Indeed, from the perspective of well-established models of norm construction, notably the “Norm Life Cycle”, R2P’s institutionalization in the 2005 World Summit Outcome may signify momentum towards full acceptance. However, based upon a detailed tracing of R2P’s path into the Summit Outcome, this thesis questions how R2P is increasingly characterized as well as the theoretical explanatory frames used by scholars to describe the development and impact of international norms. It challenges the twin problems of linearity and norm exogenization which distort our understanding, and which are evident in overly optimistic portrayals of R2P’s development. With these in mind, the thesis adopts a framework constituted by a constructivist-inspired hypothesis and a process-tracing methodology defined by elite-level interviews and extensive documentary analysis. It shows how tracing the micro-processes of R2P’s development generates a very different story to those derived from broader theoretical frames. Indeed, the empirical findings show how and why the agreement was possible, and – through an analysis of the complex political negotiations – in what form R2P was collectively defined. This leads to the introduction of the concept of the ‘structured outcome’ to describe how R2P was propelled towards agreement more by a series of factors relating to the design and effect of the negotiation process than by the progressive acceptance of states. Accordingly, R2P’s formulation was purposefully limited to navigate pronounced dividing-lines and as a political agreement was more cosmetic than transformational. Resultantly its normative foundations were far shallower and far less significant than oft-rendered in mainstream perception.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Uncontrolled Keywords: United Nations; Responsibility to Protect; Humanitarian Intervention; International Relations; Constructivism; Structured Outcome; Kofi Annan; Lloyd Axworthy; International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty; ICISS; World Summit; international norms; Iraq War; September 11; Bush Doctrine; process-tracing; Foreign Policy; Sovereignty; Kosovo; R2P
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:13

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