The Responsibility to Protect: Assessing the Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty

By MacFarlane, S. Neil; Welsh, Jennifer et al. | International Journal, Fall 2002 | Go to article overview

The Responsibility to Protect: Assessing the Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty


MacFarlane, S. Neil, Welsh, Jennifer, Thielking, Carolin, International Journal


Jennifer Welsh is University Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Somerville College. Carolin Thielking is a doctoral student in International Relations at Oxford. S. Neil MacFarlane is the Lester B. Pearson Professor of International Relations at Oxford and the Director of the Centre for International Studies. The authors would like to thank Henry Shue and the two anonymous reviewers who provided comments on an earlier version of this text.

...if humanitarian intervention is, indeed, an unacceptable assault on sovereignty, how should we respond to a Rwanda, to a Srebrenica - to gross and systematic violations of human rights that affect every precept of our common humanity?

Kofi Annan(1)

THE CONTROVERSIAL PRINCIPLE OF NON-INTERVENTION is much older than the United Nations system that enshrines it. Indeed, debates about the extent and limits of state sovereignty have been an integral part of the evolution of modern international society since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648.(2) Since 1945, the debate has focused on the alleged incompatibility of two principles of the United Nations system: sovereign equality and human rights. The former, enshrined in articles 2(1), 2(4) and 2(7), suggests that states should enjoy sovereign equality - defined internally as exclusive jurisdiction within a territory and externally as freedom from outside interference. The latter, identified in the preamble and article 1(3) and elaborated in subsequent declarations and conventions, suggests that individual rights are inalienable and transcend sovereign frontiers.

Several features of contemporary international relations have sharpened this conflict and provided added impetus to those calling for more interventionism: the weakness (or complete failure) of state structures in many conflict-ridden societies, which provides opportunity for criminal activity, arms proliferation, and terrorism; the increased vulnerability of civilians in the context of civil conflict; the 'CNN effect,' in which global and instantaneous access to information heightens popular awareness of human suffering; the strengthening of human rights norms and proliferation of human rights organizations; the fear of refugee flows; and the search by Western governments for new forms of political legitimacy and 'moral authority' to replace the ideologically driven agenda of the cold war. In short, today's debate about the legitimacy of intervention is conducted in a climate of heightened expectations for action.

This permissive context for intervention provided the backdrop for Kofi Annan, the secretary general of the United Nations, to issue a challenge to the international community to prevent 'another Rwanda.' At the General Assembly in 1999, Annan called for a new consensus on the age-old problem of intervention and a plan of action for responding to humanitarian tragedies.(3) Canada's response to this call, led by the former foreign affairs minister, Lloyd Axworthy, was the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS).

The ICISS was announced at the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000 by Canada's prime minister, Jean Chretien, and received funding, thought leadership, and organizational support from the Canadian government.(4) It was modelled on the 1987 Brundtland World Commission on Environment and Development and had three goals: 1) to promote a comprehensive debate about humanitarian intervention; 2) to foster a new political consensus on how to reconcile the principles of intervention and state sovereignty; and 3) to translate that consensus into action. The Commission was co-chaired by Gareth Evans, a former foreign minister of Australia, and Mohamed Sahnoun, a senior Algerian diplomat and former special adviser to the United Nations secretary general.(5) An advisory board of serving and former foreign ministers provided a political reference point and follow-up mechanism for the ICISS recommendations. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Responsibility to Protect: Assessing the Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.