Explaining India’s Approach to Responsibility to Protect

Date01 December 2021
DOI10.1177/09735984211043052
Publication Date01 December 2021
AuthorVikash Chandra
SubjectArticles
Jadavpur Journal of
International Relations
25(2) 187 –207, 2021
© 2021 Jadavpur University
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DOI: 10.1177/09735984211043052
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Article
Explaining India’s
Approach to
Responsibility to
Protect
Vikash Chandra1
Abstract
India has been alleged for adopting a reluctant approach to the doctrine
of responsibility to protect (R2P). In light of this allegation, this article
explains India’s approach to R2P and attempts to answer why India has
adopted a cautious and reluctant approach. To give a comprehensive
picture and provide a compelling account of India’s cautiousness and
reluctance, this article uses an eclectic approach. The systemic and
domestic variables, along with normative and materialistic factors,
have been taken simultaneously into account. It points out that India’s
approach to R2P is shaped by a set of six variables—historical legacies,
especially India’s colonial experience and its applications for its attitude
towards the principles of non-intervention and state sovereignty;
domestic compulsions such as failure of India to deliver inclusive and
equitable development and ensuring human rights and citizen’s dignity
in remote areas; the intentions of the great powers; security concerns
like insurgency in various parts, including Kashmir; its approach to the
doctrine per se; and unintended consequences of conflict escalation
and its implication for India—have been a linchpin in shaping India’s
approach. It demonstrates how these factors have cumulatively shaped
1 Department of Political Science, Kashi Naresh Government Post Graduate College,
Gyanpur, Bhadohi, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Corresponding author:
Vikash Chandra, Department of Political Science, Kashi Naresh Government Post
Graduate College, Gyanpur, Bhadohi, Uttar Pradesh, India.
E-mail: vikash06chandra@gmail.com
188 Jadavpur Journal of International Relations
India to neither vote in favor of intervention nor stand up with the
governments that fail to protect their citizens, and thus fall in fulfilling
their obligations under the first principle of the doctrine of R2P.
Keywords
Responsibility to protect, great powers, unintended consequences,
sovereignty, non-intervention
Introduction
India has been one of the key beneficiaries of the redistribution of power
in the international system. Based on its changing material status, India
is claiming status accommodation and inclusion in international
organizations and regimes. India is claiming status accommodation, but
the major stakeholders in the international order are still watching
whether and to what extent India is willing to depart from its conventional
foreign policy and shows a willingness to share international
responsibilities. In this regard, India’s approach to and positions in the
debates on the implementation of responsibility to protect (R2P) doctrine
in Libya and Syria has been regarded as a litmus test. The international
community and the West were closely watching whether taking a
proactive stand India was willing to depart from its traditional approach
to the principles of state sovereignty and non-intervention or decides to
remain circumscribed in its traditional identity and international role?
India’s approach to R2P has gotten considerable scholarly attention in
the recent years. Various studies have analyzed India’s approach to R2P
with emphasis on Libyan and Syrian cases (Aneja 2014; Choedon 2017;
Destradi 2017; Dunne and Teitt 2015; Ganguly 2016; Hall 2013, 2019;
Hansel and Möller 2015; Jaganathan and Kurtz 2014; Khandekar 2015;
Møller 2017; Shrivastav 2011). Most of these have been preoccupied
with the analysis of India’s stand on the three pillars of the doctrine.
Some studies have found that India’s position is still primarily perceived
as an extension of its approach to respect the principles of state
sovereignty and non-intervention as was the case with the humanitarian
intervention (Choedon 2017). India has been alleged for adopting a
traditional Westphalian view on R2P and perceived as a defender of state
sovereignty (Stuenkel 2014: 14). In this way or another, many studies on

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