Journal Article

A Call to Alms?: Natural Disasters, R2P, Duties of Cooperation and Uncharted Consequences

Craig Allan and Thérèse O’Donnell

in Journal of Conflict and Security Law

Volume 17, issue 3, pages 337-371
Published in print December 2012 | ISSN: 1467-7954
Published online September 2012 | e-ISSN: 1467-7962 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jcsl/krs012
A Call to Alms?: Natural Disasters, R2P, Duties of Cooperation and Uncharted Consequences

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This article, which was initially prompted by Myanmar’s behaviour following Cyclone Nargis in May 2008, considers affected States’ responses to natural disasters, as regards the receipt of international aid assistance. Such catastrophic phenomena provide a context for re-examining the boundaries of an affected State’s sovereign discretion, and its fettering via concepts such as Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and duties of international cooperation. Increasingly commonplace pronouncements regarding international solidarity and responsibilities towards the plight of disaster-stricken populations are reflected in the International Law Commission’s current study in this area. Section 2 briefly tracks post-Cold War hawkish approaches to enforcing human rights and the emergence of R2P. Section 3 considers the fractured nature of international disaster response law which provided the opportunity for R2P’s invocation post-Nargis. Despite its eventual, explicit, exclusion from application to natural disasters per se, Section 4 maintains that R2P’s rhetorical influence persisted, both in diplomatic parlance and in the current ILC Draft Articles which embolden an international cooperative duty, particularly as regards the duties of an affected State. As well as critiquing this new articulation of cooperation (especially as regards freedom to reject aid) and its supposed distinctiveness from R2P, the consequences resulting from an affected State’s dereliction of its protective duty are pondered, as is the assertion that the proposed ILC duties present no major threat to an affected State’s sovereignty.

Journal Article.  14415 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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