R2P as an emerging norm in International Relations. United Nations Security Council decision-making on Libya and Syria

Textbook 2017 87 Pages

Politics - International Politics - Topic: Peace and Conflict Studies, Security


The responses to mass atrocity cases by the international community, in particular by the United Nations Security Council, have been vastly inconsistent since the UNs existence. This was especially apparent during the 1990s when various mass atrocities occurred in different countries. The international community was in disagreement on how to respond to these types of intra-state crises, since a response, based on coercive measures, would mean to violate a country’s sovereignty, even if it is meant to protect civilians. However, the concept of sovereignty is the bedrock of international law and the UN Charter.
To provide consistency and to overcome the long debate of sovereignty versus Human Rights, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) developed the concept of Responsibility to Protect (R2P). The third pillar of R2P was meant to guide the decision-making of the Security Council. The idea was that the Security Council would apply the criteria for military interventions set out by ICISS in order to have appropriate and consistent responses to mass atrocities.
With the beginning of the Arab Spring and the use of force against civilians by the governments of Libya and Syria, the Security Council expected to react to both crises in a similar pattern, since civilians needed protection. However, this was not the case. While the Security Council responded immediately after the outbreak of violence in Libya by implementing coercive measures, it hesitated to adopt any Resolution, which included these measures, in regards to Syria.
This study will analyze the discourse of the 5 Permanent Members (P5) of the Security Council and their decision-making process on Libya and Syria. It will give explanations to the different responses to both crises and will evaluate the potential of R2P as an emerging norm in International Relations.


Type of Edition
File size
1.7 MB
Catalog Number
Institution / College
Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences
Security Council International law Sovereignty UN Charter Arab spring Human rights Responsibility to Protect United Nations Military intervention P5



Title: R2P as an emerging norm in International Relations. United Nations Security Council decision-making on Libya and Syria