Has the Responsibility to Protect Set a Stable Precedent after Intervention in Libya?

Author: Ibrahim Kaunda, Masters of Law and Legal Practice Course at the University of Law in London, 2022-2023.

Editor: Danai Daisy Chirawu, Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters in Human Rights Policy & Practice (2021-2023), The University of Gothenburg, University of Deusto, University of Roehampton & The Arctic University of Norway, Bachelor of Laws (With Honours) (LLBS) (2012-2016) – the University of Zimbabwe.


Humanitarian intervention has been taking place from time immemorial. The purpose of humanitarian intervention has been to save the systematic gross violation of human rights around the world; however, the motive has been seen to vary from one action to another. Some schools of thought have criticized the actors for using this doctrine for the purpose of fulfilling/protecting their interests. R2P, since its first establishment, was first legitimately applied in Libya and this was the only time the intervention was made based on this doctrine. The results of this action in Libya have been criticized by many and some are saying the action has paralyzed the doctrine therefore creating uncertainty of its applicability in future. It is more than 10 years now since the conflict in Syria began, many lives have been lost but nothing tangible has happened to stop this. Some people have pointed out that the R2P has failed to save Syria because of how it was used in Libya. This has been seen as the failure of R2P to set a stable precedent.


This paper contends that the doctrine of Responsibility to protect (Also Known as R2P), has failed to set a stable precedent after its first application in Libya. This has been proved by its failure to be applied to the atrocities in Syria. For the purpose of this paper, the responsibility to protect has been extracted by looking at the procedure before it was introduced in 2001. Previously this was known as ‘humanitarian intervention’ – this was the procedure used by the international community to save people other than their own citizens from atrocities in their countries caused either by their government or a different group of people. Humanitarian intervention is the use of force to intervene in the affairs of another country with the aim of stopping human rights violations suffered by a particular group of people. This was allowed to happen when the government is doing nothing or is not capable of saving its people from the atrocities.

The aftermath of the cold war has seen states increasingly in need of militarily intervening to protect from disasters, the citizens of other countries. There has been intervention in different parts of the world with the aim of protecting innocent civilians, for example, the UN’s huge effort to disarm parties and rebuild a state in Cambodia, the no-fly zone over Shiites in Iraq, the alleviation of starvation and establishment of the political order in Somalia, the military action in Bosnia and the intervention that came with a no-fly zone in Libya (Finnemore 2000). Further to that, the intervention process and the purpose has been evolving over the period as Ayoob puts it, in the recent period, intervention has taken place in different folds of purposive and projection the former being that which portray features different from those of the traditional intervention with the aim of specifically achieving the goal of protecting the citizens and are characterized with humanitarian in nature rather than political and strategic. While the latter is politically projected which is taken on behalf of the international community rather than by an individual state or a group of states for their own goals. These states portray themselves as agents of the international community. (Ayoob 2002).

In this regard, the paper is divided into five parts. The first part is the background of humanitarian intervention from the period since the end of the Cold War and how the norm has been developing until today. This has been supported in explanations from the different perspectives of theories e.g., the conventional, realists and liberals. This paper has taken the constructivist path of how norms are constructed all the way to the conclusion.

The second part is the current law and procedure for humanitarian intervention. The law on humanitarian intervention is governed by the UN Security Council charter. Humanitarian Intervention is contrary to the provision article 2(4) of the UN Charter as it prohibits the use of force against another country, therefore for the intervention to be legal, the UN Security Council has to authorize it.

The third part is about the ‘responsibility to protect’ also known as R2P. R2P started after the report from an independent 11 panel of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) in 2001. The UN Secretary-General called for the international community to take responsibility to intervene and protect citizens where the potential of atrocity is foreseen and the UN Security Council is slow or is not active enough to take action.

The fourth part is about the first application of R2P in Libya. After the unanimous approval of resolution 1973, the application of the R2P in Libya proved the doubts and questions the council had about how the principle will be working and has proved to have been abused by the actors.

The Fifth part is about the crisis in Syria. After the Intervention in Libya, the nearest event which could attract the application of R2P is the crisis in Syria but this is not the case. This part has explored the reasons why the R2P is not applied in the Syrian Crisis and concluded that it is because of the inappropriateness of its application that has caused it to fail to automatically be used in Syria.

Hence, the statement which I hope to address in this paper is:

After the Intervention in Libya, the R2P has failed to set a stable precedent because, despite the ongoing atrocities facing the Syrian population, the doctrine has not been applied to serve the purpose for which it was introduced.


Background of Study

Humanitarian intervention is important as it helps to reduce the suffering of the marginalized by protecting them from the atrocities aimed at them either by their government or another group of people. However, this is seen from different perspectives by different theorists. From a Conventional point of view, humanitarian intervention looks strange as it does not specifically conform to their conceptual interests. The realists consider it as important when it is done with some gains for the intervening state, these gains come in the forms of geostrategy or politics. While neoliberals’ emphasis is based on economic and trade advantages. However, this has not always been the case every humanitarian intervention is done with the intervening state’s interests or personal gains. Since 1989, the intervention has been done in different parts of the world and it’s almost impossible to certainly point out the intervener’s interests or gains. One could say that the USA’s intervention in Somalia in 1989 was the only intervention done without obvious interests as it was economically insignificant and also security gains could not be traced as the USA gave up its military base at Barbera in Somalia at the same time of intervention. On the other hand, further to that, the USA did not resist the pressure from the UN’s mission to bring peace to this country. All these together prove that there was no strategic interest by the USA.

Just like the Somalia Intervention, the US’s intervention in Cambodia was not motivated by any interests. On the other hand, the classical liberals could argue that these interventions were based on the liberal values of the UN’s blueprint of reconstructing these states as they were based on the interests of promoting democracy. However, these arguments have no supporting evidence because, to the contrary, the USA kept on refusing the state-building and democratization mission in Somalia. The problem with realists’ and liberals’ approaches is that they always focus on theories by assuming interests instead of investigating them. It is for this reason that the economic and geostrategic interests seem to be wrong (Finnemore 2002).

For this reason, it is important to pay attention to how the norms in the international system are constructed so as to provide interests’ structural coordinated approach. This focuses on the external influences of the interests behind the intervention by paying attention to the ways in which norms change in reflection of social interests. The evolution of norms that reflects the change in social interests is the basis of the constructivists’ normative development. While considering the importance of power and interests, constructivists go deep further by asking what are the interests in this issue and how power will be used in those interests. Other than norms, there are factors that create the state’s interest in any issues in question. On the other hand, factors shape behavior and outcomes while norms only create permissive conditions for action and do not determine actions. Thus, states’ interests change as a result of changing norms and therefore the change in norms brings in new behaviour. In this sense therefore humanitarian intervention is motivated by the state’s interests which is also a result of norm and norm change as Finnemore puts it “The conventional wisdom is that justifications are just mere scapegoats for the state’s trying to cover their self-interest motivated actions.” (Finnemore 2000).

Justification of the humanitarian intervention carries little or no value as they are just used to disguise the real motive behind the intervention. However, states try to justify their intervention with the aim of getting support from other concerned states in doing so, trying to make their action a standard of appropriate and acceptable behaviour. These acceptable behaviours then become internationally held and accepted norms which develop through practice and are subject to change over time. As the norm develops from the internationally accepted behaviour, although it is not common, it is likely that states may violate their self-articulated conduct. To safeguard the violation of the conduct, the combined behaviour that has been practised over a long period of time has a generally accepted framework of right conduct behaviour. On the other hand, this behaviour changes accordingly in ways not correlated with standard conceptions of interests. This is the way the norms develop from the constructivists’ perception (Diprizio 2002 pp 234).

Since the nineteenth century, humanitarian intervention has been evolving and so has been the justification for the intervention. This evolution has been even in the perception of the interveners as to which group of people are worth the intervention action as in some occasions has been seen emphasizing the relationship between the actors as Pierre Van Hoeylandt said: “According to some observers, the decision not to intervene to stop the genocide in Rwanda in April 1994 was particularly difficult to understand, or even morally blameworthy, because there had been ample warning signs of planned massacres” (Hoeylandt 2000). Of all these signs but nothing happened in the international community to stop the genocide which took place for 100 days in Rwanda claiming the lives of nearly 800,000 people. The then Secretary General had this to say to admit the failure in helping those who were in need: “We must all recognize that we have failed in our response to the agony of Rwanda and thus have acquiesced in the continued loss of human life. Our readiness and capacity for action have been demonstrated to be inadequate at best and deplorable at worst, owing to the absence of the collective will.” Report of the Secretary-General (S/1994/640, 31 May 1994).

Comparing the situation in Kosovo where the death of nearly 2000 people raised the alarm of intervention that saw the bombing by NATO without proper authorization from the UN Security Council as the tradition in the current humanitarian intervention authorization process. One would ask why it was so slow or no action taken to intervene in order to stop the genocide in Rwanda and why was it so quick to intervene without the proper procedure in Kosovo. As already said, from the constructivists’ point of view, human rights are not universal but socially constructed as some look at humanitarian intervention and human rights development as norms dominated by the Western power politics who decide what to do, whether to intervene or not. (Diprizio 2002 pp234). One can argue that given the power the western states have as already said, they are capable of changing anything in the arena as Finnemore observes that far too many inhumane acts have been committed by these states in the nineteenth century. The focus has changed and not the behaviour.

The Current Law on Humanitarian Intervention

Humanitarian intervention is the military action by an external agent/state in a particular community with the aim of preventing the ongoing loss of lives by focusing on human security. The main focus is individual security and not the state. Its main purpose is to end human rights violations and prevent the humanitarian crisis from spreading further. As provided in the UN charter under article 2(4), it is illegal for a state to use force against another: ‘All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations (Charter of the United Nations Art 2(4)). Therefore, Military intervention as it is plainly, is a violation of this UN charter’s provision. This is always the case where the intervention has taken place without the UN Security Council’s authority. The cases of intervention and nonintervention in Kosovo and Rwanda respectively, were the much-debated issues in the late twentieth century as the proper procedures were not followed. However, from the constructivists’ point of view, the development of a norm does not depend on the legal or acceptable behaviour but on how the leading actors redefine their interests and identities in the process of Interacting (R.C. Diprizio 2010). As Onuf puts it “The solution must be a revamping of legal theory so that it achieves explanatory capacity without scarifying law’s distinctiveness. If such a revamping is possible, the discipline would undergo reconstruction and a proper paradigm theory could eventuate” (Onuf 2013). The Intervention by NATO in Kosovo could be seen as wrong from the legal point of view but constructivists’ argument is that depending on the actors and their engagement and justification it was necessary for the maintenance of peace and security in the area. If their facts are convincing and acceptable by the international community, that is the development of the norm (J.H. Matlary 2002). On the other hand, the failure to intervene in the genocide in Rwanda and the killing of 7000 Muslim men in Bosnia in 1995 could be blamed on the constructivists, as the loss of lives was happening in the presence of UN peacekeeping missions on the ground but legally, they could not do anything as they did not have the mandate to act. Following these tragedies, the need to act in order to save people where the UN Security Council is slow to act or is doing nothing to stop the violence has been the necessary move hence NATO’s intervention in Kosovo (Smith S, Hadfield A, and Dunne T. 2012 pp78-94)

As Robert Diprizio puts it, “Not all interventions set precedent for future interventions but interventions and their follow-on peacebuilding missions are active attempts to promote certain norms of behaviour. (R.C. Dprizio 2010). That is why the NATO intervention was widely agreed to be illegal but legitimate because of its purpose of trying to achieve humanitarian protection.    Within the framework of the UN charter, intervention done without the collective approval even if it is on humanitarian grounds, is illegal. The legality of the intervention action comes where the UN Security Council has authorized it or where it is done in self-defence. As established above, the use of force under Article 51 Chapter VII of the UN Security Council’s charter where it is determined that there is a threat to peace or there has been a breach of peace and security. Self-defence is acceptable where provocation has been by an armed attack failing which it will be considered illegal and unacceptable (Matlary 2002 pp7-10). The process of the approval of humanitarian Intervention by the UN Security Council is that it must be authorized before the intervention has taken place. This has also seen the end to the unilateral humanitarian intervention, this means that the legal humanitarian intervention is one done in a multinational agreement (Finnemore 2010). Adding the requirement of pre-approval and the multilateral Intervention has proved the process slow and ineffective as evidenced in the Rwanda genocide (A.J. Bellamy 2011). Therefore to solve this problem, the doctrine of responsibility to protect came into existence.

The Doctrine of Responsibility to Protect

To bridge the gap between the UN Security Council’s authorization and the intervention, the responsibility to protect (also known as R2P) was eventually promoted by the UN Secretary-General following NATO’s bombing of Kosovo in 1999. This was to find the legitimate means of forcible action where necessary to protect individuals from the wide human rights violation.”Just as we have learnt that the world cannot stand aside when gross and systematic violations of human rights are taking place, we have also learnt that, if it is to enjoy the sustained support of the world’s people, the intervention must be based on legitimate and universal principles. We need to adapt our international system better to a world with new actors, new responsibilities, and new possibilities for peace and progress” (Kofi Annan 1999). This is the continued development of the norm of humanitarian intervention, where the intervention is sought in politically sensitive situations, R2P is seen as appropriate to provide quick solutions to the delicate situation where the loss of lives is foreseen. R2P started after the report from an independent 11 panel of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) in 2001. In this report, the panel recommended the need for the states to be responsible for the protection of their citizens from mass atrocities, the point raised was that sovereignty is not the right but the responsibility and where the country fails to protect its citizen, the country loses its protection from non-intervention as provided in the charter. This failure will therefore allow the international community to intervene with the aim of protecting vulnerable individuals (ICISS 2001 Report).

This R2P which is recommended to be carried by states collectively was recommended to include the responsibility to prevent, to react and the responsibility to build. These actions are beyond the normal humanitarian Intervention (Bellamy 2011 pp 263-269). The ICISS recommendation was that the R2P should be used for a just cause for three reasons the first one being that the world should try as much as possible to avoid the mass killing because of inactivity like the Rwandan incident (Wheeler 2001. P566). The second reason was to avoid the use of force without following the proper authorization procedure like the case in Kosovo where the UN Security Council did not authorize the intervention and NATO continued to bomb the area (The Independent International Commission on Kosovo). The third reason was the one as Thakur put it that it will make the intervention process transparent and make it difficult for the governments to abuse the R2P (Thakur 2005 p284). The legal application and authorization of intervention have not significantly changed with the coming of the R2P although there is a high expectation that this may happen in future. The Interventions still need to be authorized by the UN Security Council and R2P has just added the legitimate use of force to the authorized interventions. Since its introduction, R2P has become the commonly accepted framework for preventing and responding to mass atrocities. Under resolution 1973, for the first time, the UN Security Council authorized the use of military force to protect civilians against the state. The first instant the R2P was used was in the no-fly zone in the Libyan civil war in 2011 (Bellamy 2011).

R2P and Intervention in Libya

The first application of the R2P which was represented by multinationals and was authorized in the year 2011 by the UN Security Council under the resolution 1973, was the one applied in Libya against the Gadhafi authority. The intervention was meant to protect the citizens from the atrocities of the Gadhafi regime during the protest (UN Security Council Resolution 1973, 17 Mar. 2011, para.4). The intervention in Libya was seen by many including the intellectual actors Gareth Evans and Ramesh Thakur, as the representation of the coming of age for the doctrine as a new galvanizing norm in international affairs (Paris 2014 p569-603). To some extent it was right to have such an assumption although there were some oppositions, this was the first time in history of Humanitarian intervention to have unanimous approval of the resolution that made the doctrine have widespread support (Paris 2014). It received a broad international endorsement. However, in consideration of the doctrine’s normative and legal aspects, the question many scholars was that practically military action prevents mass atrocities and will the principal continues working to achieve those goals without drawbacks. (Thakur 2013 pp61-76). These questions have not been properly answered. The Intervention in Libya however, has revealed the challenges this principle will be facing, it has indeed represented something which was not considered at the early stage of formulating this norm of R2P and therefore made the results of the intervention discouraging (Paris 2014).

The intervention in Libya was so fast starting from the initial conduct of the Libyan government to the time of the actual intervention itself. In the name of responsibility to protect, the international community reacted so quickly as compared to other crises discussed before. The UN Security Council issued a statement calling the Libyan government to stick to its responsibility to protect requirements in just one week after the violence started (S. Brockmeier, O. Stuenkel and M. Tourinho 2016 p113-133).  The violence started on 15th February 2011 by 25th February 2011, the recommendation to suspend Libya from the UN Human Rights Council was issued and the UN General Assembly followed and adopted the recommendation (UNGA Resolution 65/265). The UN Security Council passed Resolution 1970, on 26th February 2011 the issue was referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and on the very same day the sanctions (Assets freezing, an arms embargo and travel bans) were imposed on Libyan authority (Security Council’s 66th-year’ meeting records 6491). After the failure of peace talks, in reaction to Gadhafi’s plans to send troops to Benghazi, together with a call from the Arab League to establish a no-fly zone, the resolution 1973 was passed urgently by the UN Security Council on 17th March 2011 by 10 members in support. In this resolution, the UN Security Council warned the Libyan government of crimes against humanity and demanded an immediate ceasefire and also no-fly zone was implemented (UN Resolution 1973 doc. S/RES/1973). Although the resolution was passed, there were no clear measures on how to implement the resolution. The members did not agree on the action plan to put the resolution in operation. The military operation by America, French and British Army started in Libya on 19th March 2011 in which the forces were bombing the Libyan military bases and so, this made the African Union’s negotiation effort futile because the coalition forces did not want to stop the airstrikes. After two weeks, NATO joined the forces in bombing Libya’s military bases, this took six months (Brockmeier, Stuenkel and Tourinho 2016).

During this operation, initiatives to find political solutions were also taking place. The UN Secretary General’s special envoy to Libya tried to bring together the rebels and the regime’s representatives in order to negotiate a ceasefire solution and also the African Union attempted to conduct similar negotiations. There was also a coalition military operation (NATO, Jordan, Qatar and the UAE) a contact group that was trying to negotiate without involving Gadhafi. (Brockmeier, Stuenkel and Tourinho 2016). As already discussed above, the resolution was passed to protect the civilians from atrocities but once the bombing started, it ended up killing a lot of civilians and toppling the government which led to the death of the Libyan leader and that was also the end of the operation. This was contrary to the expectation of other members of the UN Security Council (China, Russia and Brazil) who already opposed the use of force from the beginning. In their statements, the representatives of China, Russia and Brazil said they are fully in support of the mission to save the Libyan population from atrocities and they believe that this can be done through peaceful dialogue and diplomatic negotiations, they said they are not in support of military Intervention which will worsen the situation (UN Security Council S/PV. 6498). Similar questions were also asked when the R2P was introduced by the ICISS. During the introduction, the delegates asked what role will the use of force play in protecting civilians from atrocity crimes.  (Brockmeier, Stuenkel and Tourinho 2016). The military Intervention and removal of the Libyan government from power have been held by different commentators as contrary to the requirement of the resolution 1973 (Edward Cody 2011, The Washington Post). He quotes Amir Mussa saying: “What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not the shelling of more civilians.” (Amir Mussa 2011). However, as already discussed the intervention in Libya was of its first kind to prove the applicability of the doctrine of R2P. What came out of this intervention was to shape the future of this doctrine. Now the question is has it set a stable precedent? The immediate example we can relate to the R2P after Libya’s intervention is the crisis in Syria. I would like to agree with Thakur on this when he said: “Libya proved to be almost a textbook illustration justifying R2P principles, but its implementation also demonstrated the need for legitimacy criteria to guide decisions on authorizing and overseeing international military intervention. Although successful, the Libyan operation proved particularly controversial among the emerging powers, and the price of exceeding the mandate there has been paid by Syrians” (Thakur 2013 p 61-76).

R2P and Crisis in Syria

It has been 12 years now since the conflict began in Syria but nothing official has been done by the international community to relieve let alone to stop the atrocities the population of Syria is suffering. The question which is being asked by many is that is this not atrocity worth the application of R2P, is this not one of the reasons why R2P was introduced? Following the intervention in Libya, there have been mixed reactions as Mohammed Nuruzzaman puts it ‘post-Libya developments put aside, current global realities sound unpropitious for and heavily tilt against R2P intervention’, he said that NATO has abused the R2P principle hence the deadlock in Syrian crisis (Nuruzzaman 2014). As I explained earlier in this paper, justification plays an important role in normal development. It is clear that the actions in the intervention in Libya were contrary to the resolution 1973 but these actions were also not justified because the accusations started while the war was fought in Libya (See the quote from Amir Mussa above). This has made it difficult for the UN Security Council to authorize the use of force in Syria and so the application of R2P has not been implemented in Syria despite the death of over 200,000 civilians (Syria Network for Human Rights 2017).

The failure of applying the R2P in Syria has brought different comments from different scholars and observers. Some are saying this failure stems from the intervention in Libya’s inappropriate use of force while some are saying this is just because of politics played by the major powers. Alex Bellamy says that this was largely influenced by politics as he examined the UN Security Council’s deliberations and found out that there is no connection between NATO’s intervention in Libya and the failure to apply R2P in Syria. He said that the vetoes cast in all three draft resolutions by the other UN Security Council members (China, Russia and South Africa) did not refer directly to the Libyan experience. He concluded by pointing out that the failure to apply the R2P in Syria is a result of political decisions in two member states namely China and Russia (Bellamy 2014). While Nuruzamman pointed out that the failure to apply R2P in Syria is a significant sign that this doctrine is not working and that it is going to an end where he said: ‘R2P is about to expire and its death is not avertable’. He said that the results from Libya’s intervention are morally degenerative and practically counterproductive, he said that NATO’s intervention ended up killing more civilians than protecting them. He also pointed out that the R2P contains theoretical drawbacks and that the Western powers are taking advantage of this to advance their strategic Interests where moral values and ethical standards are sacrificed to falsehood, fabrications and distortions of realities in the run-up to intervention to promote narrow interests (Nuruzzaman 2014).

Some scholars have chosen to remain neutral while some have managed to critically point out the parts of R2P which have defects while encouraging that the doctrine can still be used. Sara Brockmeier, Oliver Stuenkel and Marcos Tourinho have pointed out that the Intervention in Libya was so important to the development of the R2P norm but it did not prove to be victorious nor did it prove the death of the norm. They said that the Libyan intervention only showed new areas of agreement and refreshed old disputes regarding the nuances of the role of the use of force to protect the population, against the will of their governments. They blamed the change of regime in Libya during the intervention when they said that this reconfirmed that R2P could be abused while also they were fast to recognize that this can still be the case with UN Security Council’s authorized intervention. They have also mentioned that the implementation of R2P in Libya has somehow contributed to the deadlock in the UN Security Council over Syria but refused to confirm that this is the primary reason (Brockmeier, Stuenkel and Tourinho 2016). While Roland Paris argued that only some areas of the doctrine have problems and not the entire norm, he argued that the doctrine can still continue to enjoy widespread support even after the Libya controversy but there are five problems which if solved, the norm can deliver. He pointed out them to be: “the mixed motives problem; the counterfactual problem; the conspicuous harm problem; the end-state problem; and the inconsistency problem” (Paris 2014).

Despite all these negative allegations against the norm, others still have hope and still defending the doctrine of R2P, as Ramesh Thakur says that the failure of application of R2P in Syria does not condemn the R2P (Ramesh Thakur 2014); Luke Glanville says that the Syrian crisis has not weakened the norm (Luke Granville 2014); While Weiss is of the opinion that although it is a shame for international community failing to apply R2P in Syria, that does not indicate that R2P is dead (Weiss 2014). However, the defence alone indicates that the norm has problems. One could ask, if the norm is still alive, why is it not straight away applied in war-torn Syria where many civilians are dying in the eyes of the willing to help the international community? Is it, not the same reason why the norm was created to try to avoid atrocities in the world? Since the beginning of the war in Syria, Russia has 8 times vetoed the UN Security Council’s draft resolutions for military intervention in Syria. The last one was resolution 7922 which was conducted on 12 April 2017. (SC/12791).

As Tore Nyhamar puts it that one quality of norms is that they are linked to the values of the society as they are believed to express shared values of that particular society in so doing they are sustained by the same members too (Tore Nyhamar,’ The International journal of peace studies). As we have seen in the discussions above, the introduction of the R2P as a norm, received great support from the international community this was supposed to be enjoyed by the whole international community, therefore it wouldn’t be a problem for R2P to sustain. Tore continued by pointing out that the norms are being ignored because the international system has no shared values that create a society in so doing, ‘norms are regarded as mere excuses for rational selfish behaviour’. This has been proved by the application of R2P. For the first time after it was introduced, the behaviour of the actors of the intervention in Libya was not in line with the Resolution 1973 itself. That has rendered the norm difficult or impossible to be applied in the future as we have seen with the crisis in Syria.


I set out in this paper to show that R2P has not met its intended purpose since its introduction. This has been proved by its first application in Libya whereby instead of saving civilians, it was proved that more civilians died than before the intervention. The deadlock in Syria is taking us back to the same position Humanitarian Intervention was before the introduction of R2P.

To sum up, no matter what the recommendations or praises are made on the R2P norm, the fact is that as it is now “the R2P has failed to set a stable precedent after the Intervention in Libya”. This has been proved by its failure to be applied in the Crisis in Syria. The norm has failed to deliver the same purpose which it was introduced for.



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