The International Community, South Sudan, and the Responsibility to Protect

52 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2016 Last revised: 29 Dec 2016

Date Written: April 13, 2016


This Article investigates the problem of implementing the Responsibility to Protect doctrine against the backdrop of South Sudan’s dire circumstance. It investigates the problématique of the international community in relation to the doctrine and the imploding new-born country. The international community maintains residual responsibility to implement the doctrine during time of humanitarian crisis internal to states, making the international community a constitutive norm that shapes the language of the Responsibility to Protect. But marshaling international support to confront internal abuse in South Sudan proves difficult because of an elusive understanding of the international community. This Article views the Responsibility to Protect as a rejection of Vatellian pluralism but seeks to understand why a solidarist formulation has forestalled within the growing internal emergency presented by South Sudan, the world’s newest country. Situating the Responsibility to Protect within the context of South Sudan reveals the need to bolster pluralist pathways to solidarist norm construction rather than to abandon pluralist perspectives completely. This Article suggests that the general abandonment of pluralist teachings has hindered the normative reception and development of the Responsibility to Protect and has contributed to the swift turn South Sudan has made in the direction of failed state status.

Keywords: Responsibility to Protect, International Community, Pluralism, Solidarism, South Sudan, Humanitarian Intervention

Suggested Citation

Rossi, Christopher, The International Community, South Sudan, and the Responsibility to Protect (April 13, 2016). 49(1) New York University Journal of International Law and Politics 129-180 (2016), Available at SSRN:

Christopher Rossi (Contact Author)

University of Iowa College of Law ( email )

Melrose and Byington
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

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