Responsibility to Protect - En institution i stormagternes vold

Lasse Toft Christensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis examines the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) as an international institution within an English School framework. The thesis aims to explore fundamental questions regarding RtoP’s role in the international society: Is RtoP an international institution? Did the Libyan intervention change RtoP as an international institution and if so, in what way? In order to answer such questions, the thesis takes its departure in K.J. Holsti’s conceptualization of institutions as a constellation of patterned practices, ideas and norms, which is used to develop an analytical framework; enabling us to study RtoP as an institution within the international society and to study institutional change. First of all, the thesis examines how RtoP has developed into an international institution by identifying ideas, norms and practices relating to RtoP in the international society. More specifically, the thesis examines key points in the history of RtoP dating back to 2001 with the publication of the report “Responsibility to Protect” by the International Commission on State Sovereignty and Intervention. The report coined the idea of RtoP and placed it firmly on the international agenda. Subsequently, the thesis focuses on the evolvement of RtoP throughout the international society leading up to acceptance of RtoP at the United Nations General Assembly in 2005. In 2006, the great powers of the United Nations Security Council reaffirmed their support to the RtoP as an idea and consequently began to apply RtoP in practice. In continuation hereof, the thesis shows how the institutional character of RtoP has recently been strengthened, focusing in particular on the Libyan intervention. In this regard, the thesis examines both the reasons for applying RtoP in Libya, but also the type of institutional change the intervention produced. The thesis concludes that RtoP is a relatively new international institution with a low standardization of practices, ideas and norms. However, the Libyan intervention has spurred new discussions among the great powers in the United Nations Security Council on how RtoP is to by applied in the future; causing increased complexity to RtoP as an international institution.

EducationsAdministration, (Bachelor/Graduate Programme) Graduate
Publication date19 Apr 2013
SupervisorsLaust Schouenborg


  • RtoP, R2P,
  • Den Engelske Skole