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Mixed Motives and Irregularities: Libya, Syria, and the Responsibility to Protect

John Summerfield (Royal Military College of Canada)

Date: Thursday, September 28, 2017, 4:00-6:00 pm

Location: Natalie Zemon Davis Conference Room (Sidney Smith Hall, Room 2098, 100 St. George Street)

In 2001, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) released the report “The Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) to rebalance the roles of the state and the international community and provide a framework for basic human security in the face of mass atrocities and war crimes. Today, the Security Council continues to struggle to effectively and consistently implement R2P. This talk considers the conflicts in Libya and Syria as case studies to evaluate the ICISS’s six criteria for a lawful and legitimate humanitarian intervention. The chief cause of R2P’s ineffective operationalization is directly attributable to the continued primacy of state sovereignty. Moreover, the overall impact of R2P’s irregular employment is attributable to deadlock in the Security Council, the continued mixed motives of states, and R2P’s uncertain normative status.