The responsibility to protect and the Arab Spring : Libya as the exception, Syria as the norm?

Garwood-Gowers, Andrew (2013) The responsibility to protect and the Arab Spring : Libya as the exception, Syria as the norm? University of New South Wales Law Journal, 36(2), pp. 594-618.

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On March 17 2011 the UN Security Council passed resolution 1973 authorising the use of force for civilian protection purposes in Libya.1 This resolution was hailed by many supporters of the responsibility to protect (R2P) as a crucial step towards the consolidation of the concept’s normative standing.2 Gareth Evans described the intervention as ‘a textbook case of the R2P norm working exactly as it was supposed to’.3 For Lloyd Axworthy the Libya episode signalled a move towards a ‘more humane world’.4 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon declared that it ‘affirms, clearly and unequivocally, the international community’s determination to fulfil its responsibility to protect civilians from violence perpetrated by their own government.’5 At first glance, the Security Council’s rapid, decisive response to escalating violence in Libya might well have suggested a new willingness on the part of the international community to take collective action to avert intra-state humanitarian crises. However, a closer examination of the text of resolution 1973 and statements by Security Council member states reveals a less than complete endorsement of R2P. Disagreements between states over the scope of the mandate for the use of force in Libya quickly emerged. Long-standing fears among Russia, China and other non-Western states that R2P could be used as a pretext for regime change returned to the fore as the legality and legitimacy of NATO’s military action were called into question. This post-Libya backlash against R2P has been a central factor in the international community’s subsequent inability to agree on effective civilian protection measures in Syria. Much of the optimism that surrounded R2P in the immediate aftermath of resolution 1973 has given way to a sober realization that achieving international consensus on civilian protection measures will rarely be straightforward.

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ID Code: 61708
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: responsibility to protect, international law, Libya , Syria, Security Council
ISSN: 0313-0096
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
Current > Schools > School of Law
Deposited On: 06 Aug 2013 23:02
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2013 20:37

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