From Tripoli to Damascus? Lesson learning and the implementation of the Responsibility to Protect
International society's failure to respond in a timely and decisive fashion to the crisis in Syria has been widely described as a failure of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP). One of the principal explanations for this apparent failure was the political fallout from the NATO-led intervention in Libya. This article examines the proposition that failure in Syria stemmed from controversy in Libya. It finds that there is relatively little evidence to support this view because: first, Russian and Chinese explanations of their own position have not been consistent in emphasising the legacy of Libya; second, several states that were very critical of the NATO-led action in Libya supported for draft resolutions on Syria and did not identify Libya as a particular influence; third, both the Security Council and General Assembly have exhibited signs of deeper comfort with RtoP post-Libya than they had prior to it. This suggests that the Council's paralysis on Syria owes more to the politics surrounding this specific case than to more generalised concerns about RtoP.
Policy and Administration not elsewhere classified
Political Science not elsewhere classified