ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Between Sovereignty and Moral Responsibility towards Humanity

The Responsibility to Protect: From Promise to Practice by Alex J Bellamy and Edward C Luck, Cambridge and Medford: Polity Press, 2018; pp vi + 229, £17.99.


In the post-Cold War period, the international community started imagining a peaceful and globalised world. It was a time when international relations scholars emphasised on human security; thus for the first time after World War II (WW II) at least theoretically, the individual came at the centre of national security. Despite these changes, the world is still not safe and secure for individuals. The injudicious but deep social divides on the lines of religion, race and ethnicity are a cause of violence in different countries of the world. Although interstate rivalries receded, intrastate conflicts have escalated in the post-Cold War world. With this, we have witnessed a rise in civilian casualties in different regions, but the international community remained hesitant to intervene in conflict areas. The reason for this dilemma was extra sensitivity towards sovereignty that nation states consider as inviolable (Doyle 2009). The question here is, can the international community turn a blind eye to genocides and human right abuses on the pretext of respecting sovereignty? Do we have a responsibility to protect? This is where the work of Bellamy and Luck is so relevant, a must read for those who are still looking for some answers to these questions. The Res­ponsi­bility to Protect (R2P) is a pertinent subject for practitioners and scholars. The book offers enough details, theoretical and conceptual discussions, and elaboration on case studies that are of immense interest for both: policy circles and academia.

This co-authored book has seven chapters, excluding the introduction and conclusion. The brief introduction explains the perspective of authors and their motivation for writing this book. The book is an outcome of a collaborative effort of a scholar and a practitioner. Alex Bellamy heads the Asia Pacific Centre for R2P, and Edward Luck was the first special advisor of the United Nations (UN) on R2P. The book has three main themes that make it distinct from available literature on R2P. First, the book ­argues that the R2P is just not a collective but also an individual’s responsibility. Second, it brings forth the rising challenges to R2P due to the growing number of violent non-state actors around the world. Lastly, the authors argue that the state’s willingness to select their course of action is a severe constraint in the implementation of R2P.

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Updated On : 7th Feb, 2021
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