Jurisdiction Without Territory: From the Holy Roman Empire to the Responsibility to Protect

This Essay focuses upon one contemporary manifestation of that ongoing battle over the relationship between jurisdiction and control over territory-the emergence and institutionalization of the “responsibility to protect” concept. The idea that States and the international community have a responsibility to protect populations has shaped internationalist debates about conflict prevention, the use of force, and international administration since its development by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) in 2001. The responsibility to protect concept is premised on the notion, to quote former Secretary- General Kofi Annan, that “the primary raison d’être and duty” of every State is to protect its population. If a State proves unable to protect its citizens, the responsibility to do so shifts to the international community. The concept was endorsed by the General Assembly in its World Summit Outcome, and has since garnered the support of States, international organizations and civil society, and informed major projects of institutional transformation at the United Nations.