The BRICS and the responsibility to protect : lessons from the Libyan and Syrian crises

Garwood-Gowers, Andrew (2013) The BRICS and the responsibility to protect : lessons from the Libyan and Syrian crises. In Sancin, Vasilka & Dine, Masa Kovic (Eds.) Responsibility to Protect in Theory and Practice, GV Zalozba, Ljubljana, Slovenia, pp. 291-315.

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The emerging ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P) principle presents a significant challenge to the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) states’ traditional emphasis on a strict Westphalian understanding of state sovereignty and non-interference in domestic affairs. Despite formally endorsing R2P at the 2005 World Summit, each of the BRICS has, to varying degrees, retained misgivings about coercive measures under the doctrine’s third pillar. This paper examines how these rising powers engaged with R2P during the 2011–2012 Libyan and Syrian civilian protection crises. The central finding is that although all five states expressed similar concerns over NATO’s military campaign in Libya, they have been unable to maintain a common BRICS position on R2P in Syria. Instead, the BRICS have splintered into two sub-groups. The first, consisting of Russia and China, remains steadfastly opposed to any coercive measures against Syria. The second, comprising the democratic IBSA states (India, Brazil and South Africa) has displayed softer, more flexible stances towards proposed civilian protection measures in Syria, although these three states also remain cautious about the implementation of R2P’s coercive dimension. This paper identifies a number of factors which help to explain this split, arguing that the failure to maintain a cohesive BRICS position on R2P is unsurprising given the many internal differences and diverging national interests between the BRICS members. Overall, the BRICS’ ongoing resistance to intervention is unlikely to disappear quickly, indicating that further attempts to operationalize R2P’s third pillar may prove difficult.

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ID Code: 59649
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Keywords: responsibility to protect, international law, BRICS, Libya, Syria
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > International Law (excl. International Trade Law) (180116)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 [please consult the author]
Deposited On: 05 May 2013 23:37
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2017 14:45

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