Ronald M Behringer
The human security agenda: How middle power leadership defied US hegemony
New York: Continuum (Bloomsbury Academic), 2012. 221 pp., 16.99 [pounds sterling] (paper)
Recent events in Syria are encouraging new thinking about humanitarian justifications for war. Seemingly paralyzed by the fear of a Russian veto, the United Nations Security Council has taken no concrete steps to intervene in the Syrian uprising. All eyes are now fixed on United States President Barack Obama as he examines the evidence of possible chemical weapon use by the Assad regime to determine whether the American "red line" has indeed been crossed, necessitating intervention. If the UN eventually authorizes intervention, it will not be to restore or protect the territorial sovereignty of the Syrian state; instead this decision would imply that the ruling regime has violated its responsibility to protect the safety and security of its population. What is at stake for the UN, therefore, is human security. Other potential impetuses for multilateral intervention in Syria, such as the threatened security of a neighbouring state, appear less likely at present.
While scholars and policymakers devoted significant attention to security studies in the 1990s, the study of human security was rejuvenated in 2005 with the UN's adoption of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine. Ronald...
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