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What are the main critiques of the R2P? Do the strengths of R2P outweigh its weaknesses?

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R2P, or Responsibility to Protect, is an obligation imposed on all members of the United Nations (UN) to work to end the worst forms of violence against civilian populations, such as genocide, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing. R2P seeks to narrow the gap between UN member states' existing commitments under international humanitarian law and the reality of extreme violence faced by millions of civilians worldwide.

A number of criticisms have been leveled at the policy. Some have argued that it represents an infringement of state sovereignty. More convincingly, others have criticized R2P for its ineffectiveness, claiming that it lacks enforceability and so cannot do what it's supposed to do and protect civilians worldwide. Critics draw attention to the fact that UN member states with appalling human rights records, such as China, Russia, and Syria, flagrantly disregard the provisions of R2P on a regular basis, making a mockery of the policy.

Supporters of R2P, however, dispute these criticisms. They see the policy as having changed the behavior of relevant actors. Although they acknowledge the persistence of serious human rights abuses, they claim that they don't detract from the overall trend, which is towards a greater understanding among governments of the need to protect civilian populations from violence.

On the whole, one could say that R2P has had a positive effect in that it has moved the protection of human rights further up the international political agenda. At the same time, though, one could also argue that the policy needs a lot more in the way of concrete enforcement mechanisms to make it work more effectively.

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