The Responsibility to Protect, the UN Security Council and the Arab Spring

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This article is featured in the ORIENT I 2018

The optimism that initially surrounded the “Arab Spring” has largely dissipated; the egregious violence in Syria, the post-intervention collapse in Libya, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the return of authoritarianism throughout the region have negated all the earlier talk of imminent “progress”. These events have also cast a shadow over the purported efficacy of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) norm as originally recognised by the UN in 2005. Though often effusively heralded as both transformative and irresistible, the concept has proved unable to dissuade governments from committing atrocities against their own people, and impotent in the face of the Security Council’s geopolitical machinations.

Aidan Hehir is a Reader in International Relations at the University of Westminster. He gained his PhD in 2005 and has previously worked at the University of Limerick and the University of Sheffield. His research interests include the humanitarian intervention, statebuilding in Kosovo, and the laws governing the use of force. He is co-convenor of the BISA Working Group on the Responsibility to Protect, and has just finished working on an ESRC-funded three-year project on “The Responsibility to Protect and Liberal Norms”.

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