The Group on Grand Strategy publishes the fifth in its series of Strategic Snapshots, entitled: ‘Syria: a responsibility to protect? The “just case” versus the “valid case”’. This snapshot assesses the current debates on the applicability and implementation of the principle of the Responsibility to Protect, where there is frequently a dividing line between those arguing that there is a ‘moral duty’ to intervene and protect and those warning about the ‘feasibility’ of an intervention. It argues that when deliberating and deciding on an external intervention, criteria of justness – protecting civilians from death and serious harm inflicted by their own government – and validity – feasibility in terms of internal conditions, external conditions, regional consequences and balance of interests – must be taken into account in equal shares, not least with regard to the current situation in Syria. It ends by calling on the European Union to provide greater political leadership and military power to ensure it can uphold an orderly and well-governed neighbourhood.
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Joachim A. Koops is Director of the Global Governance Institute and Assistant Professor of Political Science, Vesalius College, Free University of Brussels.