Protego ergo obligo? The Sovereignty Paradox in the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine

  • Pablo ZambranoEmail author


It is usually argued that the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine entails a new understanding of sovereignty, by shifting the focus from the rights of the states over their citizens, to the duties they owe to them. Nevertheless, I claim that R2P’s articulation of sovereignty is troublesome, because it fails to distinguish between the two distinct senses of responsibility, role responsibility and remedial responsibility, and thus fails to properly assign the rights and duties resulting from the relations of authority between a sovereign and its constituents, and between the international community and those in need. By defining sovereignty contingent upon the capacity to protect, R2P promotes a notion of sovereignty that cleaves the bond that legitimizes the relations of authority and obligation between the sovereign and its constituents, because the population being protected would be in a situation where they would owe obedience to a foreign agent.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oxford UniversityOxfordUK

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