Since its initial formulation in 2001, the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine, adopted by the UN in 2005, has been a source of constant popular and academic debate. Opinions on R2P range from a noble humanitarian initiative that represents the first significant step to a solidarist vision of the international realm to a tool of the powerful states for legitimizing their self-serving expeditions or a well meaning but ultimately hallow liberal concept.
Over the past five years R2P’s fortunes in becoming a well-established norm of the international society rose and fell sharply, from its implementation in Libyan crisis in 2011 to its ineffectiveness in the face of the suffering in Syria. Here I will consider whether the Syrian case spells the doom of R2P and confirm the worst fears of the doctrine’s skeptics or whether R2P still has a contribution to make. I will argue the latter, and suggest that the moral principles that underlie R2P can and should be invoked to provide care for Syrian refugees.