The concept of human security portrays human rights abuses by states as being due to unsuccessful governance within states, often contentiously referred to as failed states. States fail when they are unable or unwilling to protect and promote the human rights of their own people. The situation whereby states fail to protect and promote the rights of their own citizens, is the gateway for the international community to initiate the use of armed force as a humanitarian intervention. I contend that, the concept of ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P), underlies the justification for armed humanitarian intervention. humanitarian intervention means the process where other states intervene with armed force in a state which has failed to protect its citizens’ human rights. Moreover, the doctrine of R2P means that human beings have a duty to their fellow humans to protect those who are facing insecurity. In this essay, I am going to explain the application of R2P as a doctrine in the conflict in Darfur, Sudan. I argue that R2P has not been adopted in practice as it should be, based on the definition of R2P that have described in the United Nation Charter (UN) and the International Commission on Intervention and state sovereignty (ICISS) report in 2001.
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The conflict in Darfur has been described as the world’s greatest humanitarian catastrophe, and can be characterized as an effort at ethnic cleansing or genocide of Darfurians by the Sudanese government or Khartoum regime. However, by labeling the situation as a genocide, the international community has not begun an armed intervention for humanity in Darfur based on the R2P doctrine (Kaufman, 2007).
Even though initially, at least, it looks justifiable. This essay attempts to answer the question why this is the case. The first part of this essay will briefly discuss the concept of human security, it is insufficient to discuss the R2P doctrine without discussing the concept of human security concept which is a fundamental argument to the issue of Darfur. The second part of this essay, it will outline the conflict in Darfur. The third part will explore the R2P doctrine based on the ICISS report in 2001 and the UN Charter. Several issues will be addressed such as the timing of intervention under particular circumstances and state sovereignty as an argument against humanitarian intervention. Finally, this essay will explore the arguments surrounding the ‘failure’ of the R2P doctrine in Darfur. Ultimately, this essay will argue that the unwillingness and lack of contribution from international community to launch humanitarian intervention is a major reason why R2P has not been adopted in practice in Darfur, as are the vested interests of major international players.
1. The Concept of Human Security.
The concept of human security argues that human rights abuses by states are due to unsuccessful governance within states. The focus of human security and its primary goal is “the protection of individuals” from domestic violence (Human Security Report, 2005, p: VIII).
Instead of protecting and guaranteeing their citizens rights, I argue that some states are unable and probably unwilling to protect them. So, when these rights are taken away from citizens by their own states, which fail to uphold the values and norms of human rights, this situation is a rallying point for the international community to initiate armed force as humanitarian intervention in order to protect and promote peoples’ rights within failed states. I argue that the concept of ‘responsibility to protect’ underlines the essence of humanitarian intervention. Because as a human beings, we should be care about our fellow human who are facing insecurity.
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Human rights abuses committed by states towards their own people can be divided into two types. The first is human rights abuses caused indirectly. These include incidences of chronic insecurity such as hunger, widespread disease and insufficient shelter, or unemployment and crime that eventually lead to unsafe environments. As Brown (2002, p: 158) explains “there is usually and identifiable ‘enemy’ who can be held to account” that seen as an indirect causes “such as extremes of poverty, the accompanying malnutrition and stunted life-chances”. The second type of human rights abuses is those abuses caused directly or deliberately like genocide and ethnic cleansing. I argue that the latter cause is more easily justifiable as a reason for armed force to be taken because it has greater effect in terms of the death toll and ultimate devastation, and more easily draws the attention of the world.
Recently, numbers of states have failed to protect the basic rights of their citizens. The Human Security report in 2005 reveals that, “during the last 100 years far more people have been killed by their own governments rather than foreign armies”. The essence of a state’s duty to protect is in the first place vested within the state. It is only when this state demonstrates that it is unable or unwilling to discharge the duty to prevent, that it is the international community’s duty to react.
The most recent conflict in Sudan has been ongoing for almost ten years, since 2003. This conflict has been taken place in Darfur. The conflict is primarily between the Sudanese government and an insurgency movement hatreds that has resulted in several massacres, severe displacement and famine with a tremendous death toll exceeding 200.000 lives (Belloni, 2006).
The deepening of distrust between Darfurians and elites in Khartoum regime has arguably reached its climax “to the point of bitter hatred, and the fragmentation of Darfurian society into a state approaching anarchy, characterised by multiple local conflicts” (De Waal, 2007, p: 1039).
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Indeed, the US government has described the situation by saying that genocide is in progress in Darfur (Kaufman, 2007).
2. Darfur: The Beginning of Catastrophe.
International Development Committee in 2004 put an explicit explanation of the emergence of conflict in Darfur in 2003. Three years after the Millenium, as the long-running North-South conflict in Sudan was in progress in resolving the conflict, the world’s attention was focussed on the international war on terrorism and the US intervention in Iraq, another centre-periphery conflict erupted in the west of Sudan, Darfur. The Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) took up arms against the Government of Sudan, then initiating to attack government military facilities. The insurgency movement gained its support primarily from the major tribes of Darfur, including the Fur, the Massalit and the Zaghawa (IDC, 2004).
The basic form of Darfurians grievances as De Waal (2007, p: 1040) argues, is that “they were denied their share in political power and particularly in terms of national wealth”. As Gerard Prunier (2005, p. 86) argues, “since 1985 Darfur has been a time-bomb waiting for a fuse” so it is a matter of time for the conflict to erupt.
The insurgency movement by the rebel groups was responded to a severe military campaign by the government. Khartoum’s policies escalated the conflict by providing and distributing arms to one side in order to suppress the other. The regime also manipulated tribes in Darfur and eastern Chad to further its own aims against the insurgency, resulting in further death and destruction. The main government proxy is known as the Janjaweed, “from a segment of Darfur’s camel-herding Arab tribes, and more recent Arab immigrants from Chad, who had their own territorial ambitions in Darfur” (De Waal, 2007, p: 1040).
In addition, the government has made an ‘mutual’ agreement with The Janjaweed, so that they were “allowed to pursue their own agenda with impunity from Khartoum, in return for suppressing the rebellion (De Waal, 2007, p: 1040).
Under this agreement, the Janjaweed committed deliberate, terrible acts in Darfur, including killings, rape, torture, abductions and systematic “destruction of crops, livestock and important cultural religious sites (Williams and Bellamy, 2005, p: 30).
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The horizontal conflict has put civilians as one of the main targets of combatants in Darfur. The Sudanese government and other combatants do not care about non-combatants’ position. As Grono (2006, p: 625) argues “Khartoum’s calculated actions are perhaps understandable for a brutal regime narrowly focused on its own survival – though no less deserving of condemnation because of it”. Targeted killings, rapes and displacement of civilians have been perpetrated in the course of the counter-insurgency. It has been clear that “the government of Sudan has made no progress to ensure the protection of civilians caught up in the conflict in Darfur” (Reeves, 2004, p: 161).
The argument above is not a situation where the central government has lost its power to control and protect its people. Thousands of civilians ranging from men, women and children have reportedly been killed and villages burnt by the Janjaweed militias, which have been backed by the government since the conflict erupted, and “villages are burnt and looted because the central government is allowing militias aligned to it to pursue what amounts to a strategy of forced displacement through the destruction of homes and livelihood of the farming populations of the region” (Reeves, 2004, p: 161).
Even though the mass atrocities in Darfur have been well documented, “the international community has conspicuously failed to take the steps necessary to protect the people of Darfur” (Grono, 2006, p: 621).
The paragraphs below first outline the concept of R2P. they go on to offer two arguments for the failure of the international community to adopt R2P in Darfur.
3. The Failure of International Community to adopt R2P doctrine in Darfur.
The R2P doctrine “relies on the axiom that sovereignty exists essentially for the purpose of protecting people. The state is conceived of as the principal guardian of the rights of its people; however, it loses this status of primacy in cases where it is unable or unwilling to ensure this protection” (Stahn, 2007, p: 114).
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The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) developed this concept in its 2001 report The Responsibility to Protect. The central theme was “the idea that sovereign states have a responsibility to protect their own citizens from avoidable catastrophe from mass murder and rape, from starvation, but that when they are unwilling or unable to do so, that responsibility must be borne by the broader community of states” (ICISS, 2001, p: VIII; Stahn, 2007, p: 99).
The use of armed force as humanitarian intervention is one of the possible solutions to protect and promote human rights. Welsh (2004, p: 3) defines that humanitarian intervention is “coercive interference in the internal affairs of a state, involving the use of armed force, with the purposes of addressing massive human rights violations or preventing widespread human suffering”. By the same token, Wills (2004, p: 395) explains that “an operation that impartially makes use of diplomatic, civil and military means, normally in pursuit of United Nations Charter purposes and principles, to restore or maintain peace”. As Jackson (2000, p: 252) argues “the intervention is to protect the population of the target state (or segments of it) from grave abuses at the hands of their own government or anti-government rebels or as a result of domestic anarchy”.
The ICISS report argues that there are two core principles of humanitarian intervention. The first is that “State sovereignty implies responsibility, and the primary responsibility to the protection of its people lies with the state itself”. The second confirms that “where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect”. ICISS also explains the rules to establish the case for humanitarian intervention. It puts forward for consideration, firstly the need “to establish clearer rules, procedures and criteria for determining whether, when and how to intervene; secondly, to establish the legitimacy of military intervention when necessary and after all other approaches have failed; thirdly, to ensure that military intervention, when it occurs, is carried out only for the purposes proposed, is effective, and is undertaken with proper concern to minimise the human costs and institutional damage that will result; and fourthly, to help eliminate, where possible, the causes of conflict while enhancing the prospects for durable and sustainable peace” (ICISS Report, 2001, p:11).
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R2P was endorsed by the General Assembly at the 2005 World Summit (Evans, 2009).
It points out that states have a responsibility to protect their own citizens. So: “Each individual state has the responsibility to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means” (Grono, 2006, p: 623; Bellamy, 2006).
It goes on to argue that the international community has an obligation to protect state citizens where their own governments fail to do so. It has been confirmed that “the international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity” (Grono, 2006, p: 623).
The concept of R2P places the decision to militarily intervene squarely on the shoulders of the UN Security Council (UNSC).
An authorisation may be issued by the Council exclusively as a last resort measure before intervention. It also reiterates the conditions that any authorised intervention must meet certain requirements in order to ensure that humanitarian intervention will be successful. There is a convergence of opinion, for example, on genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity as justifying humanitarian intervention (Bellamy, 2009).
Cornish and Glad (2008, p: 7) outline the principles of humanitarian intervention. They argue that the following conditions must be met: (1).
“Humanity: human suffering must be addressed wherever it is found, with particular attention to the most vulnerable in the population, such as children, women and the elderly. (2).
Impartiality: assistance should be provided without political conditions; without discrimination as to ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political opinions, social status, race or religion and solely on the basis of needs. (3).
Neutrality: all humanitarian assistance must be provided without engaging in hostilities or taking sides in controversies of a political, religious or ideological nature”.
Moreover, Stahn (2007, p: 104) argues that “It identified three circumstances in which this “residual responsibility of the broader community of states is activated”: “when a particular state is clearly either unwilling or unable to fulfill its responsi-bility to protect or is itself the actual perpetrator of crimes or atrocities; or where people living outside a particular state are directly threatened by actions tak-ing place there” (ICISS, 2001, p: 17).
Therefore, armed intervention for humanity should be eligible to initiate in Darfur.
The legitimacy of armed humanitarian intervention also addressed in the UN Charter. It explains that “If priority is to be given to human rights in any particular case there must be compelling and indeed overwhelming reasons to interfere with the sovereign rights of states and citizens” (Jackson, 2000, p: 251).
Jackson’s article (p: 252) also provides an overview of the rules, norms and values that can be used to justify the humanitarian intervention, as they existed in the UN charter, article 2. He writes that an intervention is valid if “(1).
International Order: The intervention is taken for valid reasons of international peace and security or national security, (2).
Consent: The intervention is at the request of the legal government of the target state – perhaps to assist that government to counter a prior intervention or to defend itself against an armed rebellion. (3).
Humanitarianism: The intervention is to protect the population of the target state from grave abuses at the hands of their own government or anti-goverment rebels or as a result of domestic anarchy”. As Evans (2008, p: 40) argues “the use of military force, and only military force as the way to respond to actual or impending mass atrocities”. The rationale of humanitarian intervention, based on the notion responsibility to protect is respect for human dignity as a supreme value, extremely important to even justify military intervention (Evans, 2008).
However, the concept of armed intervention for humanity is still remain controversial, particularly in terms of state sovereignty. An intervention is likely to undermine the sovereignty of the invaded state. R2P doctrine provides a counter argument, by the argument that sovereignty means that every state has to protect its own citizens. Therefore, state sovereignty is only a valid argument against armed humanitarian intervention if states adhere to and are willing to uphold human rights. Under this argument, sovereignty is not a valid argument if states have committed wrongdoings against their own citizens.
Sovereignty should not be used as a veil that states committing crimes against humanity can hide behind and sovereignty is not a license to kill. Instead, ‘state authorities are responsible for the functions of protecting the safety and lives of [their] citizens’ (Bellamy, 2003, p: 325).
If a state is unable or unwilling to fulfil this obligation, then the international community, through the UN has the responsibility to use appropriate military force in terms of peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity (Grono, 2006, p: 623).
“The notion that human beings matter more than sovereignty radiated brightly…” undoubtedly explain the important of R2P doctrine (Weiss, 2004, p: 135).
In support of this argument, former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan (2000, p: 48) has said that “if humanitarian intervention is, indeed, an unacceptable assault on sovereignty, how should we respond to a Rwanda, to a Srebrenica – to gross and systematic violations of human rights that affect every precept of our common humanity”?. This argument explains that even though there is a real dilemma regarding humanitarian intervention in terms of sovereignty, this does not mean that the international community has to remain silent when crimes against humanity occur.
A nation cannot hide behind the principle of sovereignty when there are numbers of people suffering within that state. States are not deserving of sovereignty if they have committed crimes against humanity against their own people. This is confirmed by the 2005 World Summit which has accepted responsibility to protect “as providing the criteria for international response to conflict and large scale atrocities” (Grono, 2006, p: 621).
The articulation of the concept of responsibility to protect is a remarkable achievement. The inclusion of the concept in the Outcome Document not only marks one of the most important results of the 2005 World Summit, but is testimony to a broader systemic shift in international law, namely, a growing tendency to recognize that the principle of state sovereignty finds its limits in the protection of human security.
So, why did the R2P doctrine has not been adopted in practice in Darfur? Grono (2006, p: 624) has argued that in the case of Darfur “the gap between formal recognition and implementation is at its greatest”. That is, the gap between the formal recognition of R2P and the actual implementation is at its greatest in Darfur. There is no political will for the international community to find a suitable solution for Darfur. The international community has failed to achieve practical implementation of R2P that lay within its perception. The international community has focused on addressing the consequences of the conflict rather than its causes. For instance, the European Union’s (EU) primary contribution is restricted to funding African Union (AU) mission in Darfur. In fact, it has been dwindling over time (Grono, 2006).
In addition, most of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO) contribution is limited to supplying logistical aid and expertise to support the AU mission. NATO has no intention of putting its troops in the battlefield (Grono, 2006).
An out-and-out intervention like the air assault that was undertaken in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq is not viable because NATO is reluctant to instill casualties of its troops (De Waal, 2007).
Similar with NATO, the US has been providing basic medical and food supplies for Darfurians, rather than military assistance. The US reaction towards Darfur was influenced by the US objective that “has been distracted by Iraq and not made Darfur as high a foreign policy priority as a declaration of genocide would seem to entail” (Schulz, 2009, p: 153).
The US and the international community have been occupied with the international war on terrorism. This fact has diverted considerable resources and attention away from the conflict in Darfur.
In Darfur, the requirement of developing a concrete of operations gained a very little attention. As Grono (2006, p: 630) has said that “the world leaders set themselves when they signed up to the R2P principles”, however “there is a more fundamental reason to even denounce their own failure” to implement the doctrine. As a matter of fact, Darfur has shown that “R2P will remain aspirational, not operational” because a lot of evidence have shown that Darfur has ‘met’ all of the requirements for humanitarian intervention to take place, however, R2P has not been adopted practically in Darfur. It has also proven that a decision to launch humanitarian intervention has not come from the major states which dominate the UNSC. In fact, in the UNSC, some states manipulated the discussion in order to avoid the “obligation” to punish Khartoum’s brutality with intervention. “They claimed that it was premature to take collective action, since the crisis in Sudan had not yet reached a stage where the domestic government had manifestly failed to exercise its respon-sibility to protect” (Stahn, 2007, p: 117).
However, I argue that this is arguably blatantly untrue. The paradox of major states power as a world’s representatives has implied on the lack of political will to intervene in Darfur due to conflict of interest within those major states.
The Sudanese government’s campaign has caused the death toll of 30.000 people and approximately 1.2 million people have been forced to flee their homes (Williams and Bellamy, 2005).
The Khartoum regime’s campaign has continued despite the criticisms from international community through the UNSC resolution, and one of them is the UNSC Resolution no.1556. Resolution 1556 of 30 July 2004 presses “by imposing an arms embargo on the region” and also “demanding that the Sudanese government disarm the Janjaweed or else face sanctions” (Belloni, 2006, p: 337).
But then Khartoum condemned the resolution, through its Foreign Minister declared “this resolution, according to our assessment, frustrates our aims and is discreditable” (Collins, 2006, p: 22).
Unfortunately, UNSC did not react further to impose this resolution in the aftermath of Khartoum’s reluctance and the Janjaweed is still being armed by the regime. Indeed, UNSC Resolution 1556 has not progressed beyond criticism – there has been no action taken because of it. There is no real pressure from the UN with its member states to force the Sudanese government. Eventually, I argue that the UNSC has turned a blind eye towards Darfurians (Wills, 2009).
Strategic interests of major international actors may also play a part in the international community’s reluctance to intervene, particularly in terms of energy politics and security issue plus counterterrorism discourse. As Williams and Bellamy (2005, p: 28) suggest one of the main factors of West’s unwillingness to intervene in Darfur is “Western strategic interest in Sudan”. Williams and Bellamy (2005) argue that the US relies on Sudanese government’s cooperation in terms of terrorism issue after the war on terrorism was heralded. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has built a relationship with Sudanese government on counterterrorism issue. This fact explains “the US policy towards Sudan shows how the war on terror might trump human rights concerns, and lead the US government to ally itself with repressive regimes which support its counter-terrorist policies” (Belloni, 2006, p: 339).
Ultimately, if the US does not want to apply coercive action on the Sudanese government, then it would be impossible for other countries such as China, Russia and European countries to act differently. I argue that because until now the US is still considered as the most powerful state in the world. The hierarchy in the UNSC draws the US’s power. For instance, when the majority of UNSC did not approve the US intervention in Iraq, this does not mean a serious matter for the US. So, Bush administration at that time did not bother and keep continued its action without UNSC approval at all. There is no state would bravely stand in the US way against the intervention.
Furhermore, in terms of the energy politics and security issue, I argue that oil has also played a very important role and arguably it has been one of the greatest barrier of humanitarian intervention in Darfur. Both members of UNSC, the US and China are involved in Sudanese oil industry. The paragraphs below explore states involvement in Sudanese oil industry, particularly China and the US.
China is known as the biggest buyer of oil from Sudan. The biggest investor in the Sudanese oil industry is the China National Petroleum Company (CNPC), and China is Sudan’s biggest trading partner overall than the US or European countries. China has invested approximately $300 million dollars to develop Sudan’s largest refinery, and buys two-thirds of Sudan’s oil (Teitt, 2009; Stone, 2006).
It has been alleged that there are Chinese soldiers in Sudan protecting Chinese oil interests there, and that these troops have engaged in skirmishes with the rebels (Teitt, 2009).
An intervention over Sudan would obviously disrupt its oil interest, so then China would likely to veto any proposal of intervention in Sudan. In addition, the US has been importing oil from Sudan since 1998, – the issue has potential significance for the US economy and its ongoing relationship with the Sudanese government. The current holders of oil and gas concessions in Sudan include China, the US, Malaysia, India, French and Belgium (Teitt, 2009).
The US and China in particular, may not therefore be the only international actors behaving in the interests of their own energy security and oil investments regarding support for an intervention in Darfur. Although the US and China are the most important actors in this context.
Strategic actors’ in the UNSC which own insurgency issues may also play a part in their decision to avoid humanitarian intervention in Darfur. For instance, China has a black history in terms of civil conflicts in its provinces such as Tibet or Xinjiang. Russia has a similar history of its issues in Chechnya (Grono, 2006).
I argue that by agreeing to an intervention in Darfur would mean casting light onto their behaviour towards their own insurgencies and minority issues, and eventually opening up the question of intervention.
One of the most shocking facts is the UN, EU, the US and AU have refused to act if there is no response from the Sudanese government. Even League of Arab States (LAS) explicitly supported Khartoum’s action and stressed the need of additional time to let the regime manage the situation and condemned armed intervention in Darfur (Williams and Bellamy, 2005).
So, at this point I argue that Khartoum has nothing to lose and is continuing with its violent policies. In sum, it has been evident in Darfur that the R2P doctrine as the foundation to dispatch armed intervention for humanity in Darfur “remains weak and strongly contested, and that intervention requires a state, coalition or organisation with the capacity to assume responsibility for protecting the population in danger and to shoulder both the political and material costs of intervention” (Williams and Bellamy, 2005, p: 29).
As a result of the failure of the international community to adopt R2P practically in Darfur and act decisively, most of the burdens in terms of the international military response to the conflict were put on the AU’s shoulder to deal with the conflict. However, I argue that it did not reflect the R2P doctrine. The AU’s possible outcomes are limited because of their limited mandate, resources and capabilities. The greater factor is only its intention. The AU mission and its troops only have effective observer status. They do not have a mandate to protect civilians with alacrity. In addition, financial support for the AU mission has evaporated and many of its soldiers remain unpaid (De Waal, 2007).
In fact, most African countries could not afford to help the financial needs. So, the slogan “an African solution to an African problem” has not been achieved by them (Mansaray, 2009; Grono, 2006, 627).
Any progress in Darfur will require a stronger mandate than the current AU mission. It should contain “a more realistic concept of operations, larger numbers and better logistics, and better finance. All of these provisions were promised by international community, but have not eventuated. Clearly, “it was mind-blogging that what has been described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis was not attracting adequate attention” (Wills, 2004, p: 411).
Obviously, it would be impossible for AU to settle the conflict if the world has turned its face away from Darfur. Unsurprisingly, little progress was made in Darfur.
In conclusion, I argue that the R2P doctrine supposedly should be adopted and achieved a maximal result in Darfur as it arguably did in Kosovo and Rwanda. The conflict in Darfur has certainly resulted in clear examples of genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity. However, based on Darfur’s case, the R2P as a doctrine has not been adopted in practice. There is no ‘real’ willingness from international community to settle the conflict, it would not be possible to obtain UNSC approval to launch humanitarian intervention in Darfur mostly due to the conflict of interests of major states in UNSC itself.
The international community could have taken several measures in order to protect those in danger. The implementation of the doctrine of responsibility to protect is no more than a mirage in Darfur. R2P has proven nothing more than a normative idea that has in Darfur. Sadly for Darfurians, most of the important actors in the international community see the political and material costs of implementing R2P as too great.
Ultimately, based on Darfur’s case the failure of R2P doctrine to be adopted in practice shows that it still remains vulnerable to international actors domestic concerns and interests.
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