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Libya and the Salvation of Europe (Blog)

Bonnie Bates has published Responsibility to Protect? Libya and the Salvation of Europe with the History Watch Project blog the Politics of Memory

Launched in 2009 by the United Nations, the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is a recent addition to western humanitarian discourse. The responsibility and capacity to act on violations of peace, security and human rights existed within the African Union and United Nations, prior to the introduction of R2P (Sarkin). What is new is the promulgation of the right of the west to intervene in foreign conflicts.

Photo credit: Gender Concerns International and Al-Arabiya News
Photo credit: Gender Concerns International and Al-Arabiya News

The removal of state sovereignty as an impediment to international intervention continues the pattern of western humanitarianism, in which state power can be overrode by western aid mechanisms. Despite this discourse framed as aid and assistance, such humanitarian actions can result in challenging and dismantling the sovereign power of a state. Power is now held by foreign actors who are not accountable to the local people but to their funding sources. Considered in this manner, R2P forms part of a continuum of western intervention in Africa, from the missionaries to colonial occupation to humanitarian assistance; interventions that cast Africans as victims and that enforce the power of the western metropole.

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