In an effort to move beyond the impasse between defenders of the notion of sovereignty and advocates of a new norm of humanitarian intervention, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty sought to develop concepts that could bridge these apparently contradictory positions. The ICISS argued that states held a special, primary responsibility to protect the rights and safety of all of their citizens. Should a state be unable or unwilling to meet its responsibility, according to the ICISS' argument, this task then would shift to the international community, which would need to show that generally agreed criteria existed to justify such intervention. This chapter examines the practical benefits and challenges – political, economic, military and other – of trying to implement the conflict management and peace building agenda set out by the ICISS report for the international community in a time when smaller states are fearful, perhaps justifiably, that such an agenda could also be abused by powerful states looking to disguise narrowly self-interested intervention in other countries' affairs with claims of broader international legitimacy in pursuing a “war on terrorism”.
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