Should the United Nations engage in peacekeeping missions based on the Responsibility to Protect? A Conceptual Discourse Analysis
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Unanimously endorsed in 2005, the Responsibility to Protect is the newest principle guiding UN peacekeeping, and the first including a legitimisation of the use of force. To tackle the question whether the UN should engage in peacekeeping missions based on R2P, my BSc thesis seeks a better understanding and assessment of the R2P doctrine. After a thorough literature review of the dominant views and critiques of R2P, a conceptual analysis illuminates the four central concepts inhabiting the principle. The main insight from the academic debate is the prevalence of different, contradictory interpretations, resulting in disagreement around its meaning. Making use of a concept map, the conflicting perceptions of sovereignty, security, protection and intervention are drawn out and connected to their theoretical background, underlying assumptions, and implications for the R2P doctrine. Consequently, I conduct a discourse analysis of the main debates surrounding the emergence of R2P at the UN, evoking the dominant interpretations of the four central concepts. The UN discourse echoes the clashing interpretations previously established in the conceptual analysis, whereby disagreement around its meaning results in different evaluations of the principle. Finally, the gained insights will be integrated into a conclusion on the conflicted understanding of R2P, aiming at a greater awareness of the representation of the doctrine and its implications for UN peacekeeping. This thesis argues that the principle primarily needs clarification and delimitation to be advanced in the UN and evaluate its relevance for peacekeeping. Lastly, I reflect on my contribution, and point to future research.