In a short post, Bill Easterly and Laura Freschi air some concerns over the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) that have been leveled by Noam Chomsky and General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann. 

Chomsky and D’Escoto both conclude that, in practice, R2P is just Great Power imperialism in disguise. Although a lot of other statements by these two are nuts, this conclusion is not completely crazy. After all, any intervention has to be approved by the Great Powers that sit on the UN Security Council.

Not for nothing, but “in practice” R2P has never been applied.  The responsibilty to protect is a legal term agreed upon by UN  member states in 2005.  It provides the Security Council a legal endrun around traditional arguments of state sovereignty in cases where a country is unwilling or unable to prevent mass atrocities from being visited upon its citizens.  Since 2005, however, the Council has yet to invoke R2P to authorize intervention. 

Talk to me about “imperialism” when that happens —  if it ever does. 

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