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Northwestern University School of Law: The Responsibility to Protect and the International Criminal Court: America’s New Priorities

Prepared by: Kelly Whitley
March 1, 2008



This conference report addresses how to devise useful and pragmatic strategies on what steps the United States could take to implement the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine judicially. R2P is a framework grounded in the rule of law that aims to protect populations from genocide, crimes against humanity, and other war crimes.


Over the course of the past five years, the international community has adopted, with varying degrees, two related means for responding to and preventing the atrocity crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing. The first is the "Responsibility to Protect Doctrine" (R2P), which the U.N. General Assembly adopted - with U.S. endorsement - in September 2005. R2P mandates effective responses to widespread assaults on civilian populations at the national level first but, if necessary, through collective international action. Many focused on R2P implementation have sought to apply the doctrine in country specific cases and have considered a range of political, economic, diplomatic, and military intervention options. What has been absent from these debates, however, is any serious discussion on the judicial arm of R2P, i.e., when an international judicial response can either support or replace military options.

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