Lessons from the Past Few Decades
States – Western ones, at least – have given increased weight to human rights and humanitarian norms as matters of international concern, with the authorization of legally binding enforcement measures to tackle humanitarian crises under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. These concerns were also developed outside the UN Security Council framework, following Tony Blair’s Chicago speech and the contemporaneous NATO action over Kosovo. This gave rise to international commissions and resulted, among other things, in the emergence of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) doctrine. The adoption of this doctrine coincided with a period in which there appeared to be a general decline in mass atrocities. Yet R2P had little real effect – it cannot be shown to have caused the fall in mass atrocities, only to have echoed it. Thus, the promise of R2P and an age of humanitarianism failed to emerge, even if the way was paved for future development.
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