Whose Responsibility to Protect: The Duties of Humanitarian Intervention

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The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty???s report, The Responsibility to Protect, argues that when a state is unable or unwilling to uphold its citizens??? basic human rights, such as in cases of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity, the international community has a responsibility to protect these citizens by undertaking humanitarian intervention. An essential issue, however, remains unresolved: which particular agent in the international community has the duty to intervene? In this article, I critically examine four ways of assigning this duty. Although I highlight the benefits of institutionalising the responsibility to protect, I argue that we should adopt, in the short term at least, a consequentialist solution: humanitarian intervention should be the responsibility of the intervener that will be the most effective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-283
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Military Ethics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Humanitarian intervention; the responsibility to protect; the duty to intervene; consequentialism


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