International Law, Sovereignty and the Responsibility to Protect: An Overview

  •  Thomas Prehi Botchway    


This paper is an attempt at analysing the intricacies between international law, the concept of Responsibility to Protect and its implications for the sovereignty of modern states. The paper examines how the concept of responsibility to protect (as stipulated by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS)) impacts on the sovereignty of states. It adopts the essay style of writing and reviews a number of documents on the subject of international law, sovereignty and the responsibility to protect.

The paper consequently argues that though the ICISS claims that its “purpose is not to license aggression with fine words, or to provide strong states with new rationales for doubtful strategic designs” (ICISS, 2001, p. 35), the Commission’s very attempt to exempt the permanent five and other so-called major powers from intervention does just that whether intentionally or unintentionally. It consequently recommends that much effort should be made to address the inequalities within the international system through the formulation of appropriate policies and international regulations that address the sovereign equality of states in the international system, especially on the question of intervention.

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