Skip navigation

Natural Sciences & Mathematics

Mountains from the University of Denver

Research

Global Justice, Kant and the Responsibility to Protect

Visiting Associate Professor at the Josef Korbel School Health Roff Perkins' book Global Just, Kant and the Responsibility to ProtectVisiting Associate Professor Heather Roff Perkins' book titled Global Justice, Kant and the Responsibility to Protect: A Provisional Duty was recently published.

Roff explains:

"This book is an attempt to answer fundamental questions about what the 'Responsibility to Protect' doctrine means, both philosophically and practically.  I start by using Kant's political philosophy to understand what duties of justice require of agents in conditions that lack legal structures (like legislatures, executives and judicial systems), and I argue that a duty to rescue under the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine amounts to a duty of justice in such a condition.  Though the international system possess international law and two international courts, these institutions are purely voluntary and do not amount to the type of legal condition found in domestic civil society.  By reframing the issue as one related to the conceptual (and perhaps metaphysical) requirements of justice, we are able to understand what to expect of agents in these juridically problematic conditions.  In particular such a reframing explains all of the shortcomings of R2P.  I argue that the classic problems associated with R2P (case selectivity, political bias, unidentified 'interveners' and not knowing when or if one's duty to intervene has been discharged) are the effects of agents possessing a duty of justice in a 'state of nature.'  Thus, the only way to remedy these problems is to institute the necessary juridical institutions to identify agents, enforce those duties and promulgate public law for the international system.  Moreover, I apply this theory to the current cases of the 2011 Libyan intervention and the failure to intervene in Syria."