Blood and Borders: The Responsibility to Protect and the Problem of the Kin-State


Sample Chapter
  • Edited Walter Kemp, Vesselin Popovski and Ramesh Thakur

    ISBN-10: 92-808-1196-7,
    ISBN-13: 978-92-808-1196-4
    United Nations University Press
    April 2011

    Map lines delineating statehood can become blurred by bloodlines of nationhood. Inter-ethnic conflict and genocide have demonstrated the dangers of failing to protect people targeted by fellow citizens. When minority groups in one country are targeted for killings or ethnic cleansing based on their group identity, whose responsibility is it to protect them? In particular, are they owed any protective responsibility by their kin state? How can cross-border kinship ties strengthen greater pan-national identity across borders without challenging territorially defined national security? As shown by the Russia–Georgia conflict over South Ossetia, unilateral intervention by a kin state can lead to conflict within and between states. The world cannot stand by when minority rights are being trampled, but the protection of national minorities should not be used as an excuse to violate state sovereignty and generate inter-state conflict. This book suggests that a sensible answer to the kin state dilemma might come from the formula “neither intervention nor indifference” that recognizes the special bonds but proscribes armed intervention based on the ties of kinship.

    “For two centuries the history of Europe – and latterly the world – has been bedevilled by the emergence of nations (‘imagined communities’) whose borders do not coincide with those of sovereign states. This timely book examines that problem from a new angle – that of the international ‘responsibility to protect’ populations threatened by mass atrocities – and suggests ways of ensuring that action by one state claiming kinship with a threatened minority in another state can help resolve such conflicts rather than make them worse.”
    —Edward Mortimer, Senior Vice-President, Salzburg Global Seminar

    About the Editors

    Walter Kemp is Director for Europe and Central Asia at the International Peace Institute (IPI). Vesselin Popovski is Senior Academic Officer at the Institute for Sustainability and Peace of the United Nations University (UNU-ISP). Ramesh Thakur is Professor of International Relations in the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy, Australian National University.

    Table of contents

    Introduction, Walter Kemp

    Part I: Problems and perspectives
    The responsibility to protect: A forward looking agenda, Ramesh Thakur
    Minority protection, bilateral mechanisms and responsibility to protect, Elizabeth Defeis
    Where are the borders? National identity and national security, Walter Kemp
    The borders of sovereignty: Whose responsibility to protect national minorities? Bogdan Aurescu

    Part II: Experiences and illustrations
    Bilateral mechanisms to protect “kin-minorities” abroad: The Hungary case, Emma Lantschner
    R2P and kinship in the context of Syria and Lebanon, Joshua Castellino
    The unilateral action of Viet Nam in 1978, Ho-Ming So Denduangrudee
    The role of Russia as a kin-state to protect the Russian minority in Ukraine, Olena Shapovalova
    Brazilians in Paraguay: A growing internal problem or a regional issue, James Tiburcio
    The responsibility to prevent confl icts under R2P: The Nigeria-Bakassi situation, Rhuks Ako