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Ralph, J; Souter, J (2015)
Publisher: Wiley
Languages: English
Types: Article
In the summer of 2014 Islamic State (IS) emerged as a threat to the Iraqi people. In this article we ask whether the UK and Australia had a ‘special’ responsibility to protect (R2P) those being threatened. We focus on two middle-ranking powers (as opposed to the US) because we seek to highlight the significance of special responsibilities that flow only from principle rather than capability. Despite casting their response in terms of a general responsibility, we contend that the UK and Australia did indeed bear a special responsibility based on the widely-held principle of reparation. Rather than making the argument that the 2003 coalition that invaded Iraq created IS, we argue that it is the vulnerable position in which Iraqis were placed as a consequence of the invasion that grounds the UK and Australia’s special responsibility to protect. We address the claim that the UK and Australia were not culpable because they did not act negligently or recklessly in 2003 by drawing on Tony Honoré’s concept of ‘outcome responsibility’. The finding of a special responsibility is significant because it often thought of as being more demanding than a general responsibility. In this context, we argue the response of these two states falls short of reasonable moral expectations. This does not mean the UK and Australia should be doing more militarily. R2P does not begin and end with military action. Rather we argue the special responsibility to protect can be discharged through humanitarian aid and a more generous asylum policy.
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