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The responsibility to protect and the use of force: remaking the procrustean bed?

Morris, Justin


Dr Justin Morris
Senior Lecturer/ Director of Undergraduate Admissions


The emergence of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) owed much to the need to enhance the UN’s ability to act forcibly in the face of the most extreme cases of gross human suffering. Too often in the past such responses were emasculated or thwarted by the necessity to successfully navigate the UN Charter’s prescriptions over the use of force, by the unwillingness of member states to provide military forces, or by a combination of the two. In accepting that certain types of inhuman activity can lead to the legitimate use of force within the UN Charter framework, the adoption of R2P appeared to resolve at least some of these problems, and as such it offered hope to those wishing to see the UN adopt a more assertive response to the grossest of human rights abuses. But, using stalemate over Syria as its backdrop, this article demonstrates the dubiousness of the claim that such a normative development can ever trump the hard edged political and strategic factors which determine when states will accept and/or participate in the use of force, and it suggests a radical solution to the dangers inherent in R2P’s intimate association with military intervention.


Morris, J. (2016). The responsibility to protect and the use of force: remaking the procrustean bed?. Cooperation and Conflict, 51(2), 200-215.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 27, 2015
Online Publication Date Nov 18, 2015
Publication Date 2016-06
Deposit Date Apr 27, 2016
Publicly Available Date Apr 27, 2016
Journal Cooperation and conflict
Print ISSN 0010-8367
Electronic ISSN 1460-3691
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 51
Issue 2
Pages 200-215
Keywords Military intervention; Norms; Responsibility to protect; Security Council; Syria
Public URL
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement ©2016 University of Hull
Additional Information Author's accepted manuscript of article published in: Cooperation and conflict, 2015, v.51, issue 2


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