Adoption of the Responsibility to Protect

27 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2011

See all articles by William W. Burke-White

William W. Burke-White

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Date Written: July 30, 2011


This book chapter traces the legal and political origins of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine from its early origins in the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty through the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document and up to January 2011. The chapter examines the legal meaning of the Responsibility to Protect, the obligations the Responsibility imposes on states and international institutions, and its implications in for the international legal and political systems. The chapter argues that while the Responsibility to Protect has developed with extraordinary speed, it is still a norm in development rather than a binding legal rule. Its greatest powers lie not in its formal legal status, but rather in the legitimating compliance pull the Responsibility to Protect is coming to exert on state responses to mass atrocity.

Keywords: International law, human rights, humanitarian intervention, responsibility to protect, United Nations, Security Council, ICISS Report, use of force, legal norms, mass atrocity, crimes against

Suggested Citation

Burke-White, William W., Adoption of the Responsibility to Protect (July 30, 2011). University of Pennsylvania Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 11-40, Available at SSRN: or

William W. Burke-White (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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