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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Setting norm boundaries : the case of the responsibility to protect Baker, James S.

Abstract

Much debate has focused on the issue of so-called unilateral humanitarian intervention - those operations which take place without the authorization of the Security Council. Much less attention, on the other hand, has been paid to the issue of authorized humanitarian interventions, because they are superficially legal. Legality and legitimacy, however, can be separated. That fact, combined with recent developments in the law of humanitarian intervention necessitates a closer examination of Security Council-mandated operations to establish the level and character of the normative consensus underpinning this new Council practice and precisely how bound up it is with other legal and normative standards in international society. In so doing, it is possible to contribute to the debate on unilateral intervention by establishing why it might be that States prefer the international community’s responsibility to protect to be exercised under the auspices of the United Nations and, therefore, whether unilateral intervention will be legitimated in the future. It is also possible to utilize the case of the responsibility to protect to examine how norms interact with other standards of behaviour in a norm complex, itself informed by background understandings of appropriate conduct within an overall normative context. In developing this idea, it is possible to theorise how and why States are able to set norm boundaries and, consequently, the processes that dictate why a new norm takes the shape it does at a given moment.

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