Regional Multilateralism: The Right to Protect, not the Responsibility to Protect, in Africa

10 November 2021, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


The African Union (AU) has rejected R2P and opposed the UN Security Council-authorized military action in Libya for human rights protection, claiming primacy in decision-making on peace and security interventions on the continent. Yet, existing studies have assumed that the right to protect, as the AU established in article 4(h) of the Constitutive Act, is compatible with R2P. Drawing on the concept of regional multilateralism, this article argues that the right to protect involves a unique African logic and ambition, albeit with an extraordinary significance for global security governance. Particularly, the right to protect is a robust, bold, stable, and uncontested international security regime, which favourable Permanent Five members of the Security Council can turn to when facing the twin problems of legitimacy and veto-induced paralysis. However, such P5 members must embrace the AU’s novel principle: continental sovereignty, which underlines the AU’s primacy claims in decision-making in peace and security.


regional multilateralism
African Union
responsibility to protect
continental sovereignty
article 4(h)


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