Global Justice, Kant and the Responsibility to Protect: A Provisional Duty

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-06-11
  • Publisher: Routledge
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This book provides an innovative contribution to the study of the Responsibility to Protect and Kantian political theory, and in so doing attempts to move the debate about R2P beyond the traditional objections of case selectivity and political will to act. The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine has been heralded as the new international security norm to ensure the protection of peoples against genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Indeed, world leaders, scholars, activists and practitioners claim that R2P identifies who has authority to protect populations from these crimes and is the only legitimate mechanism for coercive (and non-coercive) action against states that violate human rights. Yet, for all of the discussion, endorsements and reaffirmations of this new norm, R2P continues to come under fire for its failures, particularly, and most recently, in the case of Syria. The failure to protect peoples from such violence arises not merely because of a lack of political will to stop such atrocities, but rather from fundamental questions and assumed answers about R2P's status. These questions are: What does a duty to protect entail; what are its features; how can we assign it; when do we know when it is fulfilled; and, most importantly, what can we do when an agent fails to perform its duty to protect? This book argues that the duty to protect is best considered a "provisional duty of justice" in what amounts to a state of nature. The debate over how to categorize a duty of intervention as either an imperfect duty of benevolence is largely misguided largely due to a confusion about deontic categories. By first examining the classic Kantian taxonomy of duties, the work argues that Kant's account is not consistent and that a "provisional" duty must be included in his framework. Next, it applies this reconstructed framework to the problem of R2P and argues that R2P is best considered a provisional duty of justice, that is a duty that is conditional on the capacity of individual actors in the international system. In order to move beyond the provisionality of protection R2P must be institutionalized. The author argues that duties of justice require juridical institutions for their fulfillment, and thus R2P requires the creation of the requisite executive, legislative and judicial authorities to move beyond its provisional status. Drawing on Kant's political theory, the book argues that his concept of a "permissive law" authorizes the coercion of states into such an institution. Practically speaking, the United Nations Security Council should be the only agent to undertake the task of such coercion. This book will be of much interest to students of the Responsibility to Protect, humanitarian intervention, global ethics, international law, security studies and IR in general.

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