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Since the Kosovo intervention of the late 1990s, many international lawyers and President Obama himself have argued in support of a "Responsibility to Protect" (R2P), an international law doctrine that would permit collective humanitarian intervention to prevent or mitigate extreme human rights disasters. But even after the Arab Awakening and the ongoing crises in Libya and Syria, there has been no thoroughgoing discussion of the circumstances under which such an intervention would be lawful under international and U.S. domestic law. This Frankel Lecture argues that we have reached a moment for thoughtful re-examination of these critical legal issues. It reviews the recent history of the war powers and humanitarian intervention and suggests legal standards that should be applied to govern the initiation and continuation of humanitarian intervention under both international and United States law.

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