This chapter considers the accusation that powerful states use double standards when they employ principles such as R2P. Double standards are divided into “sins of omission” (where actors fail to respond to violations of a principle) and “sins of commission” (where actors use the principle to justify self-interested action in the absence of clear violations). Through a study of cases since 2005, it finds little evidence of double standards and suggests that inconsistency is largely a product of prudential considerations and inability to reach consensus. Rather, decisions are impacted by multiple factors and prudential considerations. “Sins of commission” have been quite rare. Indeed, the clarity of R2P’s prescriptions about which entities may to use force and in what situations might help to limit the use of force. There is only one clear example of a “sin of omission” since 2005—Sri Lanka—since in every other case where international action has been muted, significant prudential concerns have been at stake.
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