Lawful Authority and the Responsibility to Protect

Anne Orford

in Legality and Legitimacy in Global Affairs

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199781577
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932887 | DOI:
Lawful Authority and the Responsibility to Protect

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The idea that states and the international community have a ‘responsibility to protect’ populations at risk has gradually colonised debates about international intervention and administration since 2001. This chapter argues that the responsibility to protect concept significantly alters the ways in which international authority is represented. While under the UN Charter humanitarian intervention and international administration have been tolerated as emergency measures, de jure authority has since 1945 been understood to vest with the sovereign state. In contrast, the responsibility to protect concept grounds the legitimacy of authority – both of states and of the international community – on the capacity to provide effective protection to populations at risk. This chapter situates the responsibility to protect concept in a broader historical context, exploring earlier attempts by Thomas Hobbes and Carl Schmitt to ground de facto authority on the capacity to guarantee security and protection.

Keywords: authority; legitimacy; protection; United Nations; intervention

Chapter.  12449 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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