Inconsistencies between Libya and Syria? Pragmatic Revisionism and the Responsibility to Protect
Abstract: The on-going debate on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) concept revolves around its problematic and inconsistent implementation, particularly while comparing the military intervention to protect civilians in Libya (2011) and the inadequate response to the Syrian crisis. The article traces the development of the R2P discourse in the context of key cases, which fundamentally shaped the interpretation of legitimate conditions for humanitarian military intervention. In contrast to the liberal universalist approach, which would understand the R2P as an emerging norm indicating progressive support of liberal values, the analytical framework is based on pragmatic global ethics. In this perspective, the changing perception of normative concepts according to practical politics results inevitably in discursive shifts regarding the R2P operationalization and implementation. Therefore, hesitations over Syria do not reflect the failure of R2P; the crisis rather demonstrates continuous pragmatic revisionism of its normative foundations.
Keywords: R2P, humanitarian intervention, pragmatism, Libya, Syria