R2P as a global principle?: A case study of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
The principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) has been described as revolutionary in its affect on the relationship between the concepts of humanitarian intervention and national sovereignty by placing an even greater emphasis on the issue of human rights. However, R2P has proven to be difficult to apply in certain cases. The aim of this study was to contribute to the international debate within International Relations about the viability of the principle of R2P. In order to understand the problem of implementing R2P in certain cases, this study intended to examine a perceived tension between humanitarian intervention and national sovereignty. Idealism and realism worked as the theoretical tools to analyze this tension. The examination was motivated by an identified gap in the previous research, i.e., how the tension might have affected the viability of the principle of R2P. The research problem was defined as follows: How can the justification and the implementation of the principle of R2P be understood in certain cases? In order to operationalize the research problem, the thesis was performed as an investigating case study of the DPRK, which was motivated by the complex and controversial relation between the country and the international community. In order to answer the research problem, three research questions were identified. These examined why the DPRK is a case for the principle of R2P, how the UN has pursued the principle of R2P in the DPRK and how it was argued about using or not using the principle of R2P in the DPRK. The study had a qualitative approach and was conducted as a qualitative content analysis. Scientific articles and reports constituted the data of the study. The results of the investigation showed that the DPRK was a case for R2P as the government committed crimes against humanity by the systematic starvation of its citizens and through the maintenance of political prison camps, that the UN acted against the human rights violations in the DPRK through its various bodies, but its actions had been assessed in different ways, and that it was not likely that R2P would be implemented in the DPRK. The study concluded that the justification and the implementation of R2P in certain cases could be understood as a contradiction between an idealist and a realist approach to international politics. R2P could thus be regarded as a construction for relieving the tension between humanitarian intervention and national sovereignty. Hence, a common understanding of R2P’s rational basis will be neccessary to make it work.
Responsibility to Protect, R2P, humanitarian intervention, national sovereignty, United Nations (UN), Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)