// Pathways to Peace and Security. 2018. No 1(54) Special Issue: Humanitarian Challenges, Humanitarian Support and Human Protection in Armed Conflicts. P. 104-114
The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia
For much of the 20th century, East Asia had been one of the world’s regions most affected by mass killings of unarmed civilians. However, in late 20th – early 21st century, this region saw a significant decline in mass atrocities. The article explains this decline through the changing nature of the relationship between state and society in the region, and the gradual shift towards the adoption of notions of responsible sovereignty, consistent with the international Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle. In East Asia, the R2P-related norms, instead of being uncritically adopted or fully rejected, have gone through the process of localization. Global norms concerning the responsibility of the state to protect its population from mass atrocities have not been simply imported by the region’s consolidated states, but have been reinterpreted, negotiated and revised in the process to ensure that they are consistent with existing regional principles such as non-interference. As a result, the R2P norm localization in East Asia produced a mutually reinforcing accommodation between traditional sovereignty/non-interference and responsible sovereignty. The main relevant lesson from East Asian experience is that, to make atrocity prevention a reality everywhere, Responsibility to Protect as a principle must be embedded or localized within existing cultural, normative and institutional frameworks and made consistent with them. Ultimately, R2P will succeed only if it is made meaningful to different cultures and peoples beyond the West.
Responsibility to Protect (R2P), East Asia, mass killings, genocide, crimes against humanity, decline in atrocities, responsible sovereignty, state legitimacy, norm localization
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