The responsibility to protect: theorising consistency

When genocide and mass atrocities occur or appear imminent, and local authorities are manifestly failing to protect their populations, the responsibility to protect demands that states take it upon themselves to take measures to prevent or halt these crimes. However, while human protection norms pervade the contemporary discourse, international responses to atrocities remain inconsistent.

This new book explores the myriad ways in which the term ‘consistency’ is used in the context of humanitarianism, and advances the argument that both coherence of principle, as well as consistency of implementation, are necessary if the responsibility to protect is to become a norm of international society with the ability to shape international practice.

States’ responses to conflict and humanitarian crises remain inconsistent: similar cases are not treated similarly – although international practice is arguably more consistent than is presumed; and may have become more consistent since the emergence of the protection discourse. The empirical chapters explore the degree to which international responses to conscience-shocking humanitarian crises have, or have not, become more consistent.

The book is provisionally entitled ‘The Responsibility to Protect: Theorising Consistency’ and will consist of five core chapters that each explore a different dimension of consistency. The overarching narrative of the book advances a solidarist argument in defence of consistency and principles-guided international action in response to humanitarian emergencies.

Noele Crossley
Departmental Lecturer in Global Governance