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date: 29 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter takes seriously the prevalent assumption that the responsibility to protect populations from mass atrocity represents a moral imperative. It highlights tensions between how R2P is articulated and arguments for its legitimate implementation. The chapter maintains that identifying a range of ‘moral agents of protection’ and ‘supplementary responsibilities to protect’ is fundamental to any attempt to realize R2P. It offers an account of the loci of moral responsibility implicit in prominent articulations of R2P that both supports and extends this argument. Taken to its logical conclusion, this account demands that hitherto unacknowledged moral agents of protection step in when the host state and the UN are unwilling or unable to act. The chapter examines which bodies can discharge this residual responsibility to protect and proposes that, in certain urgent circumstances, institutional agents have a shared responsibility to come together and act in concert, even without UN Security Council authorization.

Keywords: responsibility to protect, moral responsibility, moral agency, shared responsibility, joint action, United Nations, coalition of the willing

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