The responsibility to protect human rights and the RtoP: prospective and retrospective responsibility

Karp, David Jason (2015) The responsibility to protect human rights and the RtoP: prospective and retrospective responsibility. Global Responsibility to Protect, 7 (2). pp. 142-166. ISSN 1875-9858

This is the latest version of this item.

PDF - Accepted Version
Download (103kB) | Preview


This article argues that -- contrary to the way that it is often framed -- the first pillar of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) is not best understood as an instantiation of a broader international responsibility to protect human rights. Firstly, the RtoP reverts to a discourse of powerful savours and passive victims, which runs against advocates' claim that the RtoP is a 'rights-based norm'. Secondly, although it distinguishes between prevention and response, the RtoP is still fundamentally a discussion of retrospective responsibility. The responsibility to protect human rights, by contrast, is importantly prospective. The article's separation of prospective/retrospective responsibility from the responsibility to prevent and to respond is an independent contribution, with broader significance beyond the RtoP context. Thirdly, the RtoP becomes activated when atrocity is building, imminent or underway; whereas the responsibility to protect human rights may be breached even without a clear causal link to harm.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Responsibility to protect; human rights; prospective responsibility; retrospective responsibility; harm; Pillar One
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Depositing User: David Karp
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2015 13:33
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2017 15:49

Available Versions of this Item

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update