Governments that have endorsed the ‘sovereignty as responsibility’ approach have shown little inclination to protect civilians suffering at the hands of their own government in the Sudanese province of Darfur. After providing an overview of Darfur’s crisis and international society’s feeble response, we explore why the strongest advocates of ‘sovereignty as responsibility’, the NATO and EU states, failed to seriously contemplate military intervention. We suggest that three main factors help explain the West’s unwillingness to intervene in Darfur: increased scepticism about the West’s humanitarian interventionism, especially after the invasion of Iraq; Western strategic interests in Sudan; and the relationship between the crisis in Darfur and Sudan’s other civil wars. We conclude that the emerging norm of humanitarian intervention remains weak and strongly contested, and that advocates of the ‘responsibility to protect’ approach have yet to persuade their governments to help save populations in danger.
Paul D. Williams, Alex J. Bellamy