Response to large-scale atrocities: humanitarian intervention and the responsibility to protect

Saulius Katuoka, Agne Cepinskyte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The United Nations has shown recurrent inability to respond to international threats caused by severe human rights violations and thus failed to perform one of its main function—preservation of international peace and security in the world. This evidenced gaps in the United Nations, caused mainly by the veto right in the voting system within the Security Council and limited powers of the General Assembly. The international community gave a twofold answer to this problem: radical humanitarian intervention and the recent concept of the responsibility to protect. The main problem with regard to humanitarian intervention is its legality—its compliance with the prohibition of the use of force. The responsibility to protect does not clash with the prohibition of the use of force, but its legal implications are rather vague— being intensively discussed in the international forum, the responsibility to protect has not yet appeared in any legally binding international document. This article discusses the legal significance of humanitarian intervention and the responsibility to protect, and aims to determine how they affect, if at all, the regulation of the use of force in the international relations, as well as how they respond to the issue of large scale atrocities in the world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157–175
JournalJurisprudencija: mokslo darbai
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010



  • Humanitarian intervention
  • Human Rights
  • The United Nations

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