Chicago Journal of International Law

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When it was codified and adopted by the United Nations (U.N.) system in 2005, the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) was meant to provide an implementation mechanism for the international community to respond to governments that were perpetrating mass atrocity crimes of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity against their own people. As R2P is now in its second decade of existence as a codified norm, it is important to comprehensively evaluate past implementation of R2P by the United Nations Security Council—the U.N. body charged with taking collective action when all other diplomacy has failed and atrocity crimes are being committed or are imminent. This Article analyzes eleven country-specific case studies, which demonstrate that the presence of certain conditions enable the U.N. Security Council to successfully implement its R2P mandate. Further, when the identified conditions are absent, implementation is generally unsuccessful. Given these conditions, this Article identifies recommendations for strengthening international institutions so that implementation of R2P by the Security Council in the coming decades will successfully save civilian populations from mass atrocity crimes.

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