The Duty to Protect

In Terry Nardin & Melissa Williams (eds.), Humanitarian Intervention. New York University Press (2006)
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Abstract

Debates on humanitarian intervention have focused on the permissibility question. In this paper, I ask whether intervention can be a moral duty, and if it is a moral duty, how this duty is to be distributed and assigned. With respect to the first question, I contemplate whether an intervention that has met the "permissibility" condition is also for this reason necessary and obligatory. If so, the gap between permission and obligation closes in the case of humanitarian intervention. On the second question, I propose 'institutionalizing" the duty to intervene. In this way, an otherwise imperfect obligation to intervene can be made "perfect" and specific to some agent.

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Kok-Chor Tan
University of Pennsylvania

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