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Why Common Humanity? Framing the Responsibility to Protect as a Common Response

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-100
JournalInternational Politics
Issue number1
Early online date8 Dec 2015
E-pub ahead of print8 Dec 2015
PublishedJan 2016

King's Authors


This article examines the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) and its invocation of common humanity. It argues that the RtoP needs the normative weight and work of the notion of common humanity in order to be framed as a common response to atrocity crimes. It further suggests that such a framing process points to a shift in the doctrine’s possible remit and accessibility which offers the potential for improvement, even in the face of legitimate critique and practical failure. The act of framing the doctrine as common opens up a shared discursive space, in which a communal language, platform and mandate allows for the enduring dilemmas of intervention and the enduring problem of conscience-shocking crimes against humanity to be more collectively engaged with. Thus, despite its failings, this framing of the RtoP offers avenues for enhanced empathy, legitimacy and efficacy.

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