Global Norm Evolution and the Responsibility to Protect

November, 2012 to April, 2015
Volkswagen Foundation

Joining the United States, Europe and Russia as major powers, countries like Brazil, China, India and South Africa are demanding greater influence on the global order. As a result, fundamental global norms such as sovereignty and non-intervention are evolving in an increasingly contested way, in contrast to common theoretical expectations. The debate about a “responsibility to protect” civilians from mass atrocities is a prime example of this dynamic. Countries rally behind ideas according to more subtle distinctions than only being part of the “West” or the “rest,” of being “rising” or “established” powers. To examine this process of norm evolution, researchers at seven academic institutions in Europe, Brazil, China and India are collaborating over a period of three years.