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date: 29 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The shifting nature of the ‘wicked problems’ that the responsibility to protect (R2P) was formulated to address requires close examination its normative elements, including assessing its status as a norm and exploring whether and to what degree it may be new. Some of the norms expressed through R2P are well established and enjoy widespread acceptance and strong compliance pull, whereas others are new, which sets the scene for norm contestation, and ambiguous and selective implementation that often characterize a norm’s journey across and within its theoretical ‘life cycle’. Moreover, the constitutive and regulative effects R2P norms have had on policy outcomes and actor behaviour remain uneven and thus deserving of further analysis. The international community’s will and ability to deliver on the promise of civilian protection in mass atrocity cases through R2P continues to face considerable challenges even as some of its component norms experience greater acceptance, institutionalization, and consolidation.

Keywords: norms, responsibility to protect, civilian protection, mass atrocity, compliance, implementation

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