Julian Junk

Testing Boundaries

Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar and the Scope of R2P


On 3 May 2008, Cyclone Nargis hit the shores of Myanmar. The government of Myanmar refused to grant international humanitarian relief efforts access to the devastated regions. This triggered an impactful debate on whether aid should be delivered coercively, and whether this was a case in which the principle of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) applied. This article traces the evolution of these disputes, as well as their impact on the testing and delineation of the boundaries of R2P. The main impact of the Myanmar debate was a return of R2P to its roots by re-centring the emerging norm on the original four core crimes, excluding the consequences of natural disasters and the delivery of humanitarian aid. Furthermore, in the Myanmar debate, the effectiveness of the R2P frame in international coalition building was brought to its limits, with some actors highlighting the potentially incendiary nature of using this frame. Hence, this article argues that Myanmar proved to be the first test case for demarcating the core of R2P.

Bibliographic record

Junk, Julian (2015): Testing Boundaries. Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar and the Scope of R2P, in: Global Society, 30:1, 1-16.