The Responsibility to Protect after Libya

In the latest HSFK-Standpunkt 04/2012 Matthias Dembinski and Densua Mumford explain why the responsibility to protect (R2P) is endangered after the intervention in Libya and how it can be saved

About ten years ago, the idea of a "Responsibility to protect (R2P)" was born – a concept highly at stake, especially since it first was applied in Libya in 2011.


Initially conceptualized to prevent serious massive human rights violations and genocides, it is for many critics a legitimation for foreign military interventions. This criticism was further fueled when R2P was applied in Libya following the UN Security Council's Resolution 1973.


In the latest HSFK-Standpunkt 04/2012 "Die Schutzverantwortung nach Libyen. Ohne Einbeziehung der regionalen Sicherheitsorganisationen wird diese Norm scheitern" (The R2P after Libya. Why the Norm Will Fail without Including Regional Security Organizations), Matthias Dembinski and Densua Mumford argue, current discontent with R2P is mainly based on procedural matters:

Power asymmetries in the decision-making processes rather than a substantial rejection of the concept cause the norm's crisis. Deciding on when where and by whom an intervention is necessary, is still dominated by the Security Council's veto powers and the military most capable states.

If these shortcomings are effectively addressed by the international community, the R2P represents a fundamental progress, say the authors.


This HSFK-Standpunkt is available as a free PDF-Download.