Illegal but Lawful: The Responsibility to Protect

The responsibility to protect (R2P) is an illegal but legitimate conception that faces numerous challenges to becoming international law and a customary norm. The past misuse of R2P by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) creates challenges to R2P that might be insurmountable; clarion calls of R2P being an arm of colonialism, and a tactic of self-interest are valid. So too are the methods at which we address intra-state conflict and combat global terrorism.  The dynamics between sovereignty, R2P, and global terrorism allow a nation to discount sovereignty in order to attack another country but claim sovereign rights when asked to protect another country’s population. R2P, if separated from those dynamics, can protect a population within an intra-state conflict, and a community invaded by an outside nation fighting terrorism. As such, R2P is a critical post-Cold War norm. Using the crisis in Syria, the argument that globalization causes any conflict, international or intra-state, to threaten international peace and security is made to support the validity to R2P.

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Communicative Interaction

Conflict Resolution and Post-Conflict Reconstruction do not need to look far or innovate anew to find a general guide or theory that can be useful in practice. Social interaction, communicative construction, or social constructivism, by whatever name you call it, is easily adaptable to the various situations faced in resolving and reconciling conflict. Constructivism is already a cannon of theory in international relations (IR), with ideological roots in social constructivism (Dunne, et al. 189). This essay will focus on communicative interaction which is a part of social constructivism, as a means of understanding the identities and socially constructed realities of those in conflict and of those trying to mediate conflict. Thomas Luckmann’s 2008 article “On Social Interaction and the Communicative Construction of Personal Identity, Knowledge, and Reality” is used to underpin and explain the abstract ideas of social constructivism, or communicative construction.

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Permanent Stagnation: The United Nations Security Council and Syria

The failure of the United Nations (UN) Security Council (UNSC) to enact any meaningful response to the conflict in Syria is eroding not only life in Syria but the very foundation of international order. This report uses the Arab Spring conflicts which the conflict in Syria is a part of to talk about larger systemic problems in the UN framework. This report argues the responsibility to protect (R2P) needs to be utilized in Syria because it could end the violence and further entrench R2P as customary law. This report also argues that the permanency of the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK), France, Russia and China in the UNSC, known as the P5, represents a lofty roadblock to fully realizing the R2P. As well, the P5 are halting the progression of human rights, state sovereignty, and a ceasing of bloodshed in Syria. Authoritative regimes are on the rise, and as soon as 2017 the international community could see three out of the five permanent seats of the UNSC governed by such regimes. The UNSC is in peril and needs broad reform if the UN desires to continue its hegemony in diplomacy. However, this report concludes the international community will not utilize the prescribed solutions because it would kill any legitimacy in the UNSC, albeit a decidedly false legitimacy.

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Challenges in State-Building

Post-conflict state-building is here to stay as a rule to follow when resolving and reconstructing a war-torn area. Regional organizations in cooperation with the United Nations (UN) are a promising division of labor to utilize in state-building. When any organization, be that state or non-state actors intervene in a conflict, it presents numerous challenges. This essay, using punitive and reconciliatory measures as a focus, highlights the challenges to sovereignty, the use of force, and accountability inherent to state-building as a norm in the international community.

State/nation-building as a term to describe the resolution of conflict and reconstruction of an area post-conflict is an oversimplification of the variables at play. However, for the sake of clarity, the term state-building will be used in this essay. James Dobbins et al. (2003) underpins this when describing other conflict resolution terms by saying, “we believe it comes closest to suggesting the full range of activities and objectives involved” (p. 1). Other names that include similar activities found in state-building are occupations, peacekeeping missions, as well as stabilization and reconstruction missions.

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