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Cover International Law

16. The Responsibility to Protect  

Spencer Zifcak

This chapter discusses the responsibility to protect, which has become the primary conceptual framework within which to consider international intervention to prevent crimes against humanity; it provides the background to the new doctrine’s appearance with a survey of the existing law and practice with respect to humanitarian intervention. It traces the doctrine’s intellectual and political development both before and after the adoption of the World Summit resolutions that embodied it. Debate about the doctrine has been characterized by significant differences of opinion and interpretation between nations of the North and the South. In that context, the chapter concludes with a detailed consideration of the contemporary standing of the doctrine in international law.