Book Chapter: India and International Norms

Shaping-the-emerging-WorldBook Chapter: India and International Norms: R2P, Genocide Prevention, Human Rights, and Democracy
Nitin Pai, Co-Founder and Director of the Takshashila Institution


Shaping the Emerging World: India and the Multilateral Order
W.P.S. Sidhu, Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Bruce Jones
Brookings Institution Press, 358 pages. (2013)

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The doctrine of responsibility to protect (R2P), India’s permanent representative to the United Nations declared in a speech in October 2012, “is the most important challenge that the international community, anchored in the United Nations, is going to face.”1 Arguing that the initial suspicion of many developing countries toward the newest norm in international relations was misplaced, he supported the need for a “collective response by the international community to ensure that mass atrocities like genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity do not take place.” Explaining why India had abstained on a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution authorizing military intervention in the Libyan civil war of 2011, he judged that implementation of the doctrine “gives R2P a bad name.”

The Indian diplomat’s arguments are a good example of India’s attitude toward international norms infringing on state sovereignty in furtherance of human security, human rights, or liberal democratic goals. This chapter argues that India takes a middle path, supporting the evolution of human rights and democratic norms, but exercising caution in the manner of their implementation. It delves into the foundations of India’s policy approach toward two sets of norms: those concerning human security and those pertaining to liberal democracy. It interrogates these norms as they have evolved and examines them from an Indian perspective. It concludes by exploring how Indian foreign policy in the context of these norms might change as India emerges to become a more powerful player in international politics.

Read a preview of the chapter online (100KB).

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