The normative status of the responsibility to protect after Libya

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The responsibility to protect concept has evolved rapidly in the last decade but its normative and legal status is still disputed. This paper assesses the degree of recognition the concept has attracted since its inception and the significance of resolutions 1970 and 1973 for the transformation of the responsibility to protect into a new norm of customary international law. It argues that despite claims about the centrality of the concept in the decision to intervene in Libya, the language of both resolutions, and the statements made by members of the Security Council surrounding their adoption, indicate that member states did not consider that they were legally bound to protect the population of Libya. Consequently, the intervention in Libya has not promoted the development of a legal obligation upon the international community to protect the world's populations against gross violations of human rights.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-341
Number of pages25
JournalGlobal Responsibility to Protect
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • responsibility to protect
  • international law
  • customary international law
  • United Nations
  • Security Council
  • Libya
  • protection of citizens


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