From a De-politicization Duty of Care to a Deeply Politicized Phenomenon: Navigating the Tension between Classical and New Humanitarianism

  • Jacinta Chiamaka Nwaka


The doctrine of Responsibility to Protect popularly known as R2P was adopted by the international community as a response to complex emergencies of the post-Cold War era. Nearly two decades of its proposal and adoption, R2P is still a controversial doctrine that is yet to go down well with most humanitarian organizations especially relief agencies. Consequently, humanitarian organizations engaging in humanitarian assistance often dissociate their activities in theory and practice from R2P. Despite the challenges which the doctrine poses to humanitarian actors, this study, using historical and analytical method, demonstrates that there are common grounds from which a synergy could be built for effective intervention and assistance. Such grounds, it posits exist because the rejection of R2P by humanitarian actors is not informed by inadequacies in the content of the new framework, as both old and new humanitarianism appear to be pursuing similar goal – protection of the helpless victims of war. What constitutes a difference seems to be too much space in R2P which could be exploited by the powerful states for personal gain and which also stifles the implied but most important aspect of the doctrine – responsibility in protection.


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eISSN: 1595-1413