On Meaning and R2P - A Deconstruction / by Simmon Li

[Ed. This is a draft. I may get an opportunity to expand on this. Either way, I think it would be interesting, in the future, to tie all three of my R2P papers together. The first one serves as a introduction to R2P in application, the second can be expanded on, but mostly talks about the points of failure specific to the Libyan case of R2P. Taken together, they could form a sort of case study on which I examine the problems of R2P. From there, a deconstructive process looking at R2P's reaction pillar and meaning would likely help. From there, perhaps develop some sort of birds-eye view of the R2P framework as a whole (moving beyond the officially adopted reaction modality) and the implications of settled meaning. Further, it would be interesting to examine both how (1) R2P, as it is adopted by the World Summit 2005, alludes to a kind of police action for the international stage and, further, the implications of this development aside from the rest of R2P (in this sense, I am speaking of R2P as the bridge of origin to global governance institutions beyond soft power), and (2) the applicability (or inapplicability) of R2P's meanings to the idea of preventive protection or more explicitly (and perhaps provocatively) development. I have come to be aware of a conceptual gap in R2P. Here in this paper, and in my short paragraph above, I advocate for and conceive of R2P as an expansive, totalizing approach to intervention in general. Some scholarship supports my view, or rather, makes my view possible (for example, the spectrum of responsibility idea called the three pillars). There are, however, scholars that prefer to keep R2P limited in nature. The argument is that in expanding R2P towards encompassing things beyond the react modality (like development), there is a risk that R2P will become meaningless or watered down and abandoned. This, I would argue, is the minimalist approach to R2P, and is understandable in the climate of international politics and law. The key insight is that, because of the limited scope and goal of current scholarship (this was what I gathered from the CCR2P symposium), there is no desire to talk about R2P for the sake of itself. Discussion of R2P at the institutional level (UN, ICR2P, CCR2P, etc) seems to be focused on institutionalizing an R2P response (and rightly so) that is strictly in the react modality. There was some lament that R2P has more modalities beyond reaction, but there seemed to me to be a disconnect between that desire, and the conceptual approach to R2P that focuses on operationalization. This is an issue I intend to tackle in the future, as R2P advocates (at least, the scholar-practitioners) have defined the current debate. I seek to explore the theoretical and conceptual meanings in R2P, which may or may not be conducive to operationalizing the principle. In doing so, I seek to expose the theoretical normative strength to be found in R2P, and reconcile those meanings with the implications of defining R2P separate of its operationalization.

This paper was written specifically for PCS260Y1 - Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies, and thus is limited in nature and scope. The paper ends in an open-ended way and anticipates further research. Further, I welcome criticism of method, thesis, and conclusion.]


The responsibility to protect (R2P) as a concept is subject to much debate in contemporary scholarship, and is an expansive field of research. There are two levels of analysis in current debates of R2P. The first level of analysis is concerned with the framework itself and motivations for research. The goals employ different approaches to scholarship on R2P. The first is a descriptive approach, in which the focus is on describing R2P. That is, this scholarship is concerned with describing R2P in sufficient ways to make it actionable. The second is a definitive approach, in which the focus is on defining R2P on the conceptual level. Much of the scholarly debate is found in the descriptive approach, and implicit in the argument of this paper, is the contention that the focus on description has been to the detriment of defining.[1] As it stands, R2P has only been accepted in the UN as the response of last resort to 4 specific crimes against humanity,[2] and consequently much of the debate has been centered around the operationalization of the ‘responsibility to react’ in R2P (the react modality). The implication in this argument is that R2P, as adopted and debated, is not defined for its own sake, but rather is defined by the ends to which it is employed.[3] The second level of analysis are situated within the discourses themselves. Many of these debates are framed within three realms of academia. First, there is a realm of discussion that focuses on the ethical implications of the R2P framework. The questions asked here revolve around normative questions of action. What ought we, as an international community, do? Second, there is the realm of international politics raising questions about the legitimacy and agency of action and the puzzle of collective action. And finally, there is the realm of international legal debate, where questions regarding the relationship between law and R2P are raised.

The process of analysis

Part of the trouble with R2P, I propose, is that it lacks conceptual clarity that makes debates about all three of its modalities difficult to hold because the debates often cross fields without explicit demarcations. This kind of loose demarcation of meaning yields problems within one area of debate that are ignored and framed in the terms of another concept within R2P’s expansive consolidation of vocabulary and meaning. In approaching the terms of debate using a deconstructive method, it is easier to be aware of the intermingled debates and more accurately follow them to the right academic and modal context. The process of analysis is simple, yet complicated and stems from the need to understand meaning. The analysis can first be applied to a single term within a specific modality of R2P and examine the relationships between the competing meanings and implications that arise from debates within certain fields of knowledge. Taking an iterative approach, the scope of this deconstructive analysis can be expanded to include more terms, and even stretch across modalities of R2P. What is proposed is primarily a deconstruction of meaning within the three fields of scholarly debate: ethical, legal, and political. In exploring the meaning of these words within one field of knowledge, we can better understand the relationships and implications between meanings within each field of knowledge. With this deconstruction, it becomes possible to mind the way in which meaning in one specific field of knowledge affect the meanings in the other fields of knowledge. Cognizant of this, it becomes possible, then, to reconstitute the term in the debates with valuable meaning. In understanding how meaning is arrived at in the debates, whether ethical, legal, or political, I propose that it becomes easier to provide conceptual clarity and force to R2P’s claims once the meanings and relationships are understood.[4] In the process of analysis, there appears to emerge a systematic way in which the full meaning of a term within the debates of R2P is arrived upon. The structure of meaning seems first to derive its foundation from a strong ethical conception of meaning. Specifically, without a strong ethical sense of the terms in question, it becomes impossible to discuss either the law or politics of a term. Second, the politics of meaning come into play. Given the nature of our international legal structure, constructing meaning is inherently a political act, and thus I propose that, before international law is considered, the political meaning of the terms of debate must first be settled. Finally, once the politics of meaning have been settled, it will be appropriate to look at how the international legal structure can be of use to R2P. In this way, I propose that the meaning of a term (or, put another way, the conceptual clarity of a term) depends on the structure of meaning and the process of generating meaning. Without further analysis in this regard, it becomes hard to imagine R2P as an institutional response outside of the react modality. Perhaps this is desirable, but in order to make such judgments, one needs to understand the concepts within R2P clearly. Using the case of Kosovo and the idea that NATO’s actions were “illegal but legitimate,”[5] one can easily pin point the source of legitimacy: the moral foundation of what motivated the act. In being able to draw moral legitimacy, NATO was later able to channel the politics of UNSC and get the legal standing to continue to act. Indeed, the KFOR’s creation is rooted in the meaning that was generated first in the moral realm, then in the political, and finally the legal.[6] The case highlights the fact that moral legitimacy (and therefore, a strong moral case) is a necessary condition for the other two meanings to become settled, and particularly in the order of politics that yields law.[7]

The scope of analysis

This analysis is primarily concerned with the meaning of responsibility vis-à-vis the “Responsibility to React” (the react modality) of R2P. Specifically, this analysis will examine what the meanings of responsibility are on the international stage and how notions of ethics, politics, and law each play some role in arriving at the complete idea of responsibility. Through a deconstructive analysis, it becomes possible to see the inter-relationship between debates even within one term of the debate, and allow us to locate where debate about R2P is being raised. Keeping in mind the limited nature of this enquiry, it becomes clear that such a process of analysis has immense potential to critically examine the meaning of R2P beyond just one term of the debate. Beyond the limited scope of this paper, a deconstructive process of analysis can serve to expose the conceptual roadblocks within the R2P framework and address them appropriately. Through a focus on the normative theory of the framework, a more complete understanding of the debates can emerge. From this focus, it becomes easier to proceed with the building of an institutional R2P response that is more fully representative of the whole framework. With this in mind, we turn to a discussion of responsibility.

Impacts of linguistic shift

Responsibility is a key term in the new debate about humanitarian intervention. What follows is a brief history of the term and its impact through changing the relationship between some terms of the debate. It should be made clear that the term “responsibility” in the sense that R2P employs is one of duty and obligation, and is fundamentally a moral responsibility to protect.[8] With this in mind, the language of responsibility is significant because it helped to address two problems that were crippling for the idea of humanitarian intervention. First, the term “responsibility” isolated its possible use on the international stage. Politically, the term was much easier to control than the previous terms of “humanitarian intervention” precisely because of the explicit moral dimension. The language of intervention, being less morally charged, was easy cast to support the use of coercive force for humanitarian purposes, as defined by the acting agent.[9]  Second, the term “responsibility” reframed the entire normative discussion about intervention because of the intimate connection with the moral foundation.[10] The language of responsibility shifted the debates in two fundamental ways.

It is important to understand, first, the normative shift that accompanied the language of responsibility, as it will make the understanding of the political ingenuity of the term that much more clear. Within the discussion of the ethics of humanitarian intervention, the introduction of the language of responsibility brought about two important milestones vis-à-vis intervention and sovereignty, two traditional pillars of international relations. First, the language of responsibility altered the conception of agency in the 4 problems that humanitarian intervention sought to address: the state in question was now somehow responsible to its population.[11] Second, R2P managed to shift the debate from the state-level analysis and the arguments over one state’s right to intervention against another’s right to non-intervention to the discussion on the individual level and how a state may have obligations that underpin the very rights being debated previously. With responsibility, the state was designated as the primary moral agent responsible for the well-being of populations. This reframing of agency for sovereignty is consistent with the idea of moral responsibility.[12] This shift happened parallel to the shift in the conception of security and its focus from national to human.[13] As the question of agency was reframed from the international to the domestic, so too was conception of sovereignty. In this sense, Kofi Anan’s ideas on two sovereignties, in conjunction with similar reframing of security to the individual level, helped to speed this development along.[14] Using his differentiations of state and individual sovereignty, a more complete normative architecture is constructed that can serve as the foundation for a larger responsibility of state to its citizens.[15] With this foundation of individual sovereignty,  there is an argument to be made that action permissible.[16] Indeed, there was quick acceptance of this division of labour, so to speak, by the international community:

“[W]hatever perceptions may have prevailed when the Westphalian system first gave rise to the notion of State sovereignty, today it clearly carries with it the obligation of a State to protect the welfare of its own peoples and meet its obligations to the wider international community.”[17]

The magnitude of this shift is not to be underestimated. A major undertaking in the conceptual clarification and norm-building process in responsibility is sorting out how the shift in language impacts and affects normative standards and the relationships between meanings of responsibility and between the terms of debate.

In this regard, the politics and ethics of responsibility are separate, but related and it is useful to distinguish the ethical debate and the political debate over the term. The resulting debates hinge often on the intersection of these two spheres of understanding, but crucially fail to separate them completely. In failing to recognize the two separate realms of debate and the relationship that bridges them, there is much conceptual confusion when discussion of responsibility takes place. Once we are clear on the meanings of ethical and political responsibility, we can move on to talk about the idea of legal responsibility as it relates to R2P.

Strictly speaking on the theoretical normative perspective, there are many questions that remain to be answered which are still extremely tangled, even in light of R2P’s impact on conceptions of sovereignty and intervention. There are multiple dimensions that serve to muddy the analysis and, furthermore, beyond the tangles between the ethical, political and legal linkages within the theoretical normative aspect, there is conceptual fuzziness between the levels of analysis. Being aware of the constitutive relationships between these fields with relation to the theoretical normative debate opens new angles and relationships to explore. With this overview of the debate over responsibility in mind, we look to the ethical conception of responsibility that is so persuasive.

The Ethical Dimensions of Responsibility

At play in the ethical discussion of responsibility vis-à-vis R2P is really two notions of responsibility that correspond to the two levels of analysis. The first is the individual notion of responsibility. In the case of R2P, this notion of responsibility relates to the state and its sovereign nature. The second is the collective notion of responsibility, which applies to the international community. In the context of R2P, there is a further difference between the responsibility of the state and the international community. The state has a positive responsibility to sovereignty,[18] that is, a state must provide for its citizens to be sovereign. The international community, however, has a negative responsibility to protection,[19] that is, the international community is obliged to do something when a state fails to be sovereign.

What, then, is responsibility? Blitz offers one definition of responsibility: “to be responsible is to be accountable for results, for outcomes because one has effected (or failed to effect) them.”[20] Lucas offers another definition:

“Etymologically, to be responsible is to be answerable—it comes from the Latin respondeo, I answer, or the French repondre, as in RSVP. I can equally well say I am answerable for an action or accountable for it. And if I am to answer, I must answer a question; the question is ‘Why did you do it’? and in answering that question, I give an account—in Greek λόγον (logon)—of my action.”[21]

In Lucas’ case, the actor in question is obliged to provide an account for their action. If they are indeed the right actor to which the question is posed, the question must be answered. In other words, the actor is obliged to answer the question. In short, there is a duty to be accountable for one’s actions. Lucas also later expands the notion of responsibility to the idea of negative responsibility, in which an actor may well be compelled to provide an account of why no action was taken.[22]

With this definition of responsibility in hand, it becomes easier to see how such notions play into the debates within R2P. The ethical meaning of responsibility is fairly settled in one sense, and unsettled in another sense and this discussion will expose both the meaning of responsibility in the settled sense and, vis-à-vis R2P, the limits of that meaning in the politics of the international, the unsettled sense. First, I would argue that there is no ethical debate about responsibility. It seems that most theoretical normative debates begin, first, by accept that states are responsible, and in turn, that the international community is responsible.[23] The ethical question of permissibility and duty take as a given this division of responsibility. Within the context of R2P, there is no argument that a state has sovereign obligations, and furthermore; I would argue that it is not within contention that that international community, broadly defined, has a responsibility to protect where a state has failed to provide for such protection. Second, I would argue that permissibility of intervention on grounds of R2P, in general, is not being debated. I would argue that any debate over the permissibility (and therefore, responsibility) of intervention is actually about the political sense of responsibility and furthermore, is deeply linked to the unsettled political notion of “protection.” The first claim is that there is not debate within R2P over the fact that states, and in turn, the international community is responsible. This notion of responsibility can be seen in many various scholarly works, but the most important of which is in the discussion of the non-intervention principle found in international law. Most discussions of non-intervention principle frame the responsibility to action as opposed to this principle.[24] The ICISS Supplementary volume frames the discussion as one of sovereignty and how the principle of non-intervention plays into the contemporary conception of sovereignty.[25] This discussion is exposed in detail by Badescu in her chapter on sovereignty and human rights. The debate in the chapter takes for a given that, first, the state ought to protect human rights, and further, if the state fails, that the international community ought to act. This is especially apparent in the section on the need to “strike a balance” between the universal normative standard of human rights on one hand, and the notion of sovereignty in the ideal type on the other hand.[26] Indeed, both the High Level Panel document (2004) and the 2005 World Summit Outcome confirm this persuasive ethical shift.[27] Consequently, many of the debates within R2P start on this footing and takes as a given the division of responsibility between the international and the state.

In addressing the second claim that the debate over responsibility’s scope is misplaced, the notion of right authority outlined in R2P is a useful point of departure. The notion of right authority is concerned with legitimacy. Ethically, if we are responsible then we as the international community, broadly defined, are accountable to protect. Indeed, there is an employment the logic of responsibility when it comes to states vis-à-vis sovereignty. Why is it then that the same logic does not apply to the international community in practice? Here, I posit that the debate about permissibility is misplaced. Right authority, in a sense, concedes that the international community has the obligation to act; it is concerned with legitimacy and obligation of action, that is, it is concerned with the politics of action.[28] There is a question of whether intervention by some actor is obligated, and indeed called a duty, if permissibility is found.[29] Both Bagnoli and Gomes make the case that the international community has a perfect duty to intervene, and that the question  that ought to be asked is about a duty to protect.[30] In fact, Gomes addresses this ethical question and makes a strong case for the existence of simultaneous agency in the individual, state and system levels to act.[31] It is apt to point out, however, that both the idea of permissibility and right authority are inherently political in nature. While important, it has been shown that such debates, in terms of ethics, lead nowhere. In fact, discussions of the ethics of responsibility are already being located elsewhere within the meaning of responsibility. It becomes clear that to address the real issue underlying the ethical permissibility debate, we ought to be talking about the politics of responsibility.

By removing, temporarily, the politics from responsibility, we arrive at a powerful and clear theoretical normative. Through this kind of analysis, the importance of understanding the mutually constitutive relationship between these meanings is exposed. The concerns in one particular area of debate can manifest themselves as an issue in other areas of debate; therefore, a clear conception in one lens is crucially linked to the formation of meaning and debate in other perspectives, and to the eventual resolution of these problems.

The Politics of Responsibility

The language of responsibility relates to the politicization of the terms of intervention. In the framework of humanitarian intervention, the terms of debate lacked a definitive ethical dimension that the language of responsibility brings. Humanitarian was extremely easy to politicize. This dilemma is best illustrated in the derisive use of “humanitarian bombing” to characterize the NATO involvement in Kosovo.[32] There was a complete political capture of the terms of humanitarian intervention for the use of military intervention. This political ambiguity is reflected in all scholarly discourse that concerns R2P.[33] In nearly every volume, a specific definition of what humanitarian intervention is taken to mean for the purposes of that volume. While this approach is constructive and necessary, almost all authors fail to recognize that the need to define terms necessarily means that the politics of the issue are still unsettled. In the case of responsibility, the relationship is complex. I argue that the ‘responsibility’ in R2P is straight forward, but that what is politicized is the “protection.” Glanville makes a similar observation, “Moreover, supporters of ‘the responsibility to protect’ have sought to distance the concept from the term ‘humanitarian intervention,’ and there are well-founded political reasons for doing so.”[34] There is a failure to separate the “protection” from the “responsibility” which results in a muddled discussion of responsibility. This, I believe, is the wrong approach. Responsibility of state to protection is as straight forward as responsibility of community to protection  because they both share the same logic, that is the logic of responsibility. Conceptually, it is baffling that the state’s logic of responsibility would be different from the international’s logic of responsibility. The fundamental difficulty of R2P is not with the responsibility to act itself, but rather with the scope of that responsibility to action and whose responsibility it is.[35] That is, there is a debate over whom the morally responsible agent should be. In the end, the responsibility portion of R2P is much harder to politicize in the general context when compared with humanitarian intervention. This was clearly the case in both Iraq 2003 and Russia-Georgia in 2008. Russia tried to politicize the idea of R2P and appropriate it for its use in the conflict over South Ossetia but ultimately failed to be successful. [36] The US also tried to politicize its intervention in Iraq on the terms of R2P and humanitarianism. While it was successful, one could argue, in appropriating the language of humanitarianism[37], it was much less successful in appropriating the language of responsibility. These cases are illustrative of the point I am making. In both cases, the politicization was of protection, which failed to pass international muster. Responsibility remained extremely hard to politicize.  As we find out, responsibility for anything other than politically acceptable notions of “protection” are difficult to sell.

The exercise of deconstruction has yielded fruitful results and exposed the difficulty in R2P’s development as a norm. While it is important on one hand to analyze developments within their own fields, it is equally important to remember that the relationship between ethics and politics, much like Reus-Smit’s analysis,[38] are constitutive of each other. This constitutive power is not a one way street, but rather a continual process of amendment and construction.

On Legal Responsibility in International Law

The legal meaning of responsibility in the specific context of R2P is an open question and it is one that I will set aside, notwithstanding a few brief comments on the legal meaning of responsibility in as debated in international law. Through the process of exposing the difficulty in the concept of responsibility in the context of R2P, it has been revealed that much of the contention relates to the notion of protection. The trouble with the institutionalization of responsibility (and therefore, agreement on the legal meaning of responsibility), specifically in the context of R2P, is that it will be impossible to attempt until meaning of protection is settled. Having exposed a strong ethical ground for responsibility and shown that the political debate over responsibility is deeply linked with the meaning of protection, it follows that a legal definition, in the context of R2P, would necessarily be conjecture while the meaning of protection is unspecified. In addition, it will become clear that the legal definition of responsibility on the international stage is, itself, in a state of change and debate. Through a analysis of the legal meaning of responsibility, we can see exactly how the debate is moving, and some of its implications on the conception of R2P and responsibility. With this in mind, I will set aside the legal question of responsibility vis-à-vis R2P and make a few comments about legal responsibility as understood in general in international law. The legal meaning of responsibility in international law follows, in some ways, the domestic parallel while maintaining a distinct nature.[39] There are, however, some settled meanings of legal responsibility in international law. The chapter moves to define the traditional conception of responsibility in international law as the responsibility for reparation for damage.[40] It is important to understand the nature of responsibility in the traditional sense. As Ago’s quote in Pellet’s chapter says, “If it is the prerogative of sovereignty to be able to assert its rights, the counterpart of that prerogative is the duty to discharge its obligations.”[41] In this sense, the idea of responsibility as the necessary corollary of international law is clearly articulated, “No responsibility, no law.”[42] The state, while having responsibility to reparations, was only legally responsible for reparations to other states. In short, the international legal definition of responsibility to other states often invokes language of ‘duty’, ‘obligation’, ‘liability’ and ‘compliance.’[43] This is the same language that R2P’s conception of responsibility relies on. However, as in the Ago quote, the prerogative of sovereignty only applied in relation to other states, and is not the same kind of state responsibility that the framework of R2P relies upon. A step towards this kind of responsibility relates to the challenges international law faced with the advent of non-state actors that were located on the international.[44] The emergence of international actors with agency besides the state forced the regime of international law to reflect on itself.[45] The International Committee for the Red Cross is one such example. In including more actors as subjects of international law, certain legal responsibilities of states had to be redefined, which culminated in the International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on State Responsibility in 1996, and the adopted Articles on Responsibility of States for International Wrongful Acts in 2001.[46] “[i]t would seem unproblematic to substitute the words ‘international organization’ or ‘international legal person’ for ‘State’ in article 1 of the ILC Articles.”[47] It is important to note that, as it stands, the legal definition of responsibility in international law largely relates actors as defined by international law. Only very recently, has the law even begun to consider individuals as a legitimate subject of international law.[48] Fundamentally, the political nature of international law is revealing itself in the discussion of responsibility and the subjects of international law.[49] As pointed out by Pellet (2010):

“We have therefore passed from a purely inter-subjective conception of [legal] responsibility, with decidedly ‘civil’ or ‘private law’ overtones, to a more ‘objective’ approach: international law must be respected independently of the consequences of a violation and any breach entails the responsibility of its author […].”[50]

In constructing an ‘objective’ conception of responsibility, politics will inherently play a role. As the US’ role in the formation of the ICC proves, the process of institution building on the international stage, whether morally desirable or not, is inherently political.[51] In many ways, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia are breaking new ground in this regard when it comes to war crimes and the idea of prosecuting individuals for the crime of rape.[52] The ICC and the ICJ, in this regard, also do similar work in the course of operation.[53] Within this process of further individualization of international law is buried a process of negotiation and accommodation in the nature of litigation between the logic of civil litigation and criminal litigation.[54] Consequently, the move to incorporate the logic of criminal litigation has moved, as Pellet has pointed out, law to a more objective form in which the breach of law and attribution of breach, regardless of risk of damage or damage itself is less important.[55] From this examination of the traditional definition of legal responsibility on the international stage and the challenges that it faces in light of the multiplicity of actors and, in the language of the ILC, “wrongful acts” beyond the domestic scale, it becomes clear that the legal definition of responsibility within international law, politics aside, is itself in motion.[56] The notion of legal responsibility vis-à-vis R2P depends heavily on the development of the individual as a subject of international law on a criminal basis. More recently, the International Law Commission has adopted the document Articles on Responsibility of International Organizations.[57] While the scope of this document is limited to those organizations that are “established by treaty or other instrument governed by international law and possessing its own international legal personality”,[58] (and thus setting aside the question of individuals) there is hope that such conceptions of international organizations, in due time,[59] will (1) lay the foundational logic for implementation of R2P within the reaction modality and (2) expand to cover other aspects of an R2P institution beyond reaction.

Conceptual Reconstitution and Demarcated Meanings

With this general commentary on the legal meaning of responsibility on the international stage in mind, it becomes clear that the conception of responsibility is many levels deep and, furthermore, is itself a fluid concept on the international stage of debate. Given a clear exposition within the three separate fields of knowledge vis-à-vis responsibility, it is now possible, at the very least, to pin point where the conceptual difficulties lie within responsibility. Subsequently, the road to progress in building R2P as an institution of international society may be slightly easier to travel because of an understanding of the nature of the road blocks. As we can see in the deconstruction of the meaning of responsibility, there is a strong ethical foundation in on the international stage. In the discussion of both the theoretical normative and legal debates, it becomes clear that the same moral logic is at the foundation of debate over the political implementation of responsibility (or more accurately, protection). Both discussions of responsibility revolve around the same language of duty and obligation. The difference lies in the source of compellence for compliance. Furthermore, it comes to light that there is no debate about responsibility itself. As exposed in this deconstruction of meaning, the argument over responsibility seems to be over the legitimacy and scope of responsibility that R2P entails. Both of these debates, however, can be traced to the politics of the meaning of protection. In discussing the legitimacy of responsibility to act, the debate is misplaced and is linked with the unsettled meanings of protection. In the discussion of scope, the related legal debate reveals itself again to be political in nature. The legal debate in question, while important to R2P’s development, is not directly related in so much as R2P’s main debates, at the moment, are not concerned with individuals as perpetrators of wrongful acts worthy of R2P’s invocation. Such acts, in R2P, are still considered the arena of the state. Crucially, while the development of the international legal meaning of responsibility vis-à-vis individuals can be a great service to untangle R2P’s conceptual knot, this angle of debate has not been approached nor attempted. Furthermore, the changing nature of legal responsibility in the general sense has contributed to the lack of clarity when applying agency to R2P at all the levels of analysis.

And so, through this exposition, it becomes clear that there are two conceptual clarifications that need to be made as far as responsibility vis-à-vis R2P is concerned. First, the ethical foundation, political meaning and legal language of protection must be settled. Second, the idea of legal responsibility with regard to individuals as subjects of international law must be settled. Without  further exposition, it is difficult to say if or when this debate will be settled. In defining law’s relationship to politics as a two-way street,[60] it becomes easy to find, demarcate and understand the roadblocks vis-à-vis responsibility in the debates over R2P and it becomes imperative to embark on a similar deconstructive analysis of meaning for protection. Keeping in mind that we are bound within the react modality, a discussion of protection may differ from any conceptions of protection that may arise in the modalities of prevention or rebuilding. The nature of a deeper the relational analysis should, in future, help to reveal the relationship between meanings of protection within a modality’s three fields of knowledge, and also across modalities of R2P.

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[1] Banda, et al. (2011)

[2] UNGA (2005).

[3] The definition, then, goes something like this: “R2P is the response by the international community to mass atrocity crimes that are committed by states.” What is R2P though? That is the question I attempt to answer.

[4] ICISS, Report (2001).

[5] Kosovo Commission Report in Weise (2008), p109.

[6] Wheeler (2000), p 283-4.

[7] Reus-Smit (2004).

[8] Raiser (2005), p 10.

[9] Badescu (2011), p1-3.

[10] There is, of course, a danger to this conception of responsibility and its convergence with the idea of human security vis-à-vis intervention. As “enlightened self-interest” becomes more popular, we can see a moral (not political) corruption of the idea of responsibility due, in part, to the politics of the international. of discussion.

[11] Thakesh (2006), p 251.

[12] Raiser (2005), p 10-13.

[13] Badescu (2011), p 4.; Popovski (2010)

[14] Annan (1999); MacFarlan (2006); Popovski (2010)

[15] Annan (1999).

[16] Holzgrefe (2003); Gomes 2011; ICISS Supplement (2001).

[17] UNGA (2004), ¶29.

[18] Lucas (1993), p5-7.

[19] Ibid., p53-54.

[20] Blitz (2005), p17.

[21] Lucas (1993), p5.

[22] Ibid., p53-54.

[23] Weiss (2007), p110-111; Gomes (2011), p1047-1049.

[24] ICISS (2001) Supplementary, p5-9.

[25] Ibid. p5-26.

[26] Badescu (2011), p37-39.

[27] UNGA (2004); UNGA (2005).

[28] Gomes (2011), p1045- 1047.

[29] Tan (2006), p92, 95-96.

[30] Bagnoli (2006), p135-136; Gomes (2011), p1066-1067.

[31] Gomes (2011), p1062-1066.

[32] Thakur (2006), p 250.

[33] Badescu (2011), p 9.; Holzgrefe (2003), p 18.

[34] Glanville (2011), p243. Emphasis added.

[35] Gomes (2011); Tan (2007); Bagnoli (2007).

[36] Badescu 2011, p 10.

[37] Thakur (2006), p 264-266, 281-287.

[38] Reus-Smit, p.40-42.

[39] Pellet. Definition, p 3

[40] Ibid, p 5-6.

[41] Roberto Ago quoted in Ibid, p 5.

[42] Ibid, p 4-6.

[43] Ibid, p 12-13.

[44] Ibid. p 6-11.

[45] Ibid. p 11-15.

[46] ILC (1996); ILC (2001); Pellet, Articles.

[47] Crawford. System, p 17-19.

[48]Pellet. Definition, p 7-8.

[49] Reus-Smit, 43-44

[50] Pellet. Definition, p 9.

[51] Shah (2005).

[52] Dezalay (2011); Burton, S., et al. (2011).

[53] Ibid.

[54] Pellet. Definition, p 9.

[55] Ibid, p 13-14.

[56] Ibid, p 11-15.

[57] ILC (2009)

[58] Ibid.

[59] Following Reus-Smit (2004), the hope is that debate will yield a foundation distinct from the just war and humanitarian one. Also Heinze “The evolution of international law” in Review of International Studies 37.4 2011.

[60] Reus-Smit, p21-23.