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Prof. Williams Explores the Responsibility to Protect and Institutional Change in Latest Issue of Global Governance

Global Governance

Published by Global Governance

It Is Indisputable that preventing and halting atrocity crimes is an especially urgent imperative in our times. Whether we consider the catastrophic civil war in Syria or the ongoing conflicts in Central Africa, even the most cursory glance at the news headlines reveals that concerted action is needed to entrench an intolerance of atrocity crimes. Progress has been made over the past few years in making national and international policy instruments fit for purpose when it comes to preventing genocide and other mass atrocities against civilians. More fundamentally, no longer are heinous crimes against civilians dismissed as the inevitable, if tragic, consequences of conflict. In this brief essay, I explain why the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is significant, argue that it highlights the dynamic relationship between normative and institutional change, and enumerate the main obstacles to a consensus on the operationalization of R2P. Although there have been major setbacks since 2005, R2P’s overall impact has been positive and claims that “R2P is dead” are premature.

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