"The Responsibility to Protect: Spelling out the Hard Legal Consequences for the UN Security Council and its Members"

Michigan Law Authors
Publish Date
From Bilateralism to Community Interest: Essays in Honour of Judge Bruno Simma
Publication Type
Book Chapter

Bruno Simma has made important contributions, as a scholar and as a practitioner, both to the legal regimes of the protection of civilians (human rights law, humanitarian law, international criminal law, and refugee law), and to the law on the use of force. The new concept ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P) constitutes a synthesis of these regimes. This chapter spells out the legal consequences of R2P, postulated as a binding legal principle of international law, for the Security Council and its members. The chapter is a thought experiment, because the binding legal force of R2P is not settled. It is argued that, once R2P is accepted as a fully fledged legal principle, the Security Council (and its members) would be under a legal obligation to authorize, namely to take sufficiently robust action in R2P situations. The chapter then discusses the problems engendered by the acceptance of such a material obligation and suggests a procedural obligation to justify inaction instead.

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