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Which international relations theory (realism, neo-realism, liberalism etc.) is the most useful approach to understanding the need for the Convention of the Responsibility to Protect in an effort to ensure a balance of power and order, and a protection from the absolute observance of state sovereignty? And why?

Quick answer:

Liberalism is the most useful approach to understand the Responsibility to Protect initiative. This is because Liberalism is the only theory listed here that acknowledges the possibility of states working together. UN conventions require that states work together, and Realism and Neo-realism do not allow for that possibility. Liberalism posits that states vest power in international organizations and are therefore strengthened for their efforts.

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The Responsibility to Protect is an international human rights initiative aimed at protecting individuals's human rights and preventing the "worst forms of violence and persecution," according to the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention. Member states of the United Nations strive to uphold this commitment to human rights, vowing to protect their populations from atrocities. They are committed to stopping issues including, but not limited to, genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and other crimes against humanity. States also committed in 2005 to cooperate with regional and international bodies whenever national authorities fail to keep their citizens safe. In this global effort, sovereignty is conditional on the condition that a government protects human rights.

For that exact reason, both Realism and Neorealism are not helpful in understanding the Responsibility to Protect. Realism and neorealism argue that at the heart of international state relations is a quest for power and domination. The realist paradigm is Hobbesian: in an anarchical world—where there is an absence of a supranational authority or a "world government"—states are in constant competition and fear for their safety. This self-preservation means that states value their sovereignty above all else. Cooperation with one another is impossible. Politics is a zero-sum game from which only one nation can emerge victorious.

Realists see international organizations and cooperation efforts as a front: international bodies have no actual authority in themselves and instead reflect the already established balance of power. For Realists, international organizations do not change the balance of power or impose a new order. IGOs (international governmental organizations) reflect the hierarchy of the already established system.

Liberalism champions IGOs and other international efforts amongst states, believing that global politics can be turned into a non zero-sum game in which all states can progress together. For liberals, international bodies like the UN and doctrines such as the Responsibility to Protect are essential in fostering new norms that allow states to cooperate and communicate. Similarly, these international bodies provide a platform to punish states who fail to comply with international rules. For these reasons, liberals believe that such institutions and doctrines are essential to maintaining peace and global order.

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