By Lauren Pak
Lauren Pak is a senior at Vanderbilt University studying Political Science and Community Leadership Development.
One of the significant innovations in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/1 (2005) establishing the responsibility to protect (R2P) is dictating who has the right to intervene in humanitarian disasters. According to paragraph 138 of the resolution, the state has the ultimate responsibility to “protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity”.  If the state fails to satisfy its obligations, the international community has the right to “collective action,” which paragraph 139 states is to “build capacity to protect” and “use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means” in order to prevent human rights atrocities.  The resolution proclaims the international community’s overriding authority and ability to intervene in state affairs.
The principles of R2P assume that states are primarily responsible for intervening in atrocities that are controllable and within the powers of institutional structures. R2P works under the stipulation that global peace is conditioned on state mutuality and respect of another’s sovereignty.  The legitimacy of states as a governing body by international standards are dependent on the legal ability to “prevent, punish, investigate, and redress human rights violations.”