The responsibiliy to protect in armed conflict : a step foward for the protection of civilians ?
Raphaël Van Steenberghe
Beyond responsibility to protect : generating change in international law
Cambridge [etc.] : Intersentia, 2016
This chapter considers the relationship between the responsibility to protect (R2P) and the United Nations Security Council's increasingly significant practice of mandating the protection of civilians (POC) in its collective security enforcement measures. It addresses the common and distinct features of the two concepts before analysing the potential normative impacts of such association on the protection of civilians and, in general, on international humanitarian law (IHL). In line with the general theme of the book, the author observes that R2P may act as a transformative concept in relation to international law, in particular IHL, by generating changes in this area of law. More specifically, it asserts that the association of R2P with POC - characterised by similar features but still based on a very different logic - has led to exporting the reaction aspects peculiar to R2P Third Pillar into the field of POC. This association may have the advantage of both clarifying and putting the emphasis on the possibility and necessity of coercive intervention by the international community in situations where violations of the IHL rules related to the protection of civilians occur. However, such normative evolution is not without risk for IHL. In particular, it may affect its neutral nature or lead to the conflation of the primary and collective obligations that it imposes regarding the protection of civilians with the primary and collective responsibility provided under R2P.