Boggero, M. (2019), “Complex Norms and Technological Transition: Reflections on the Responsibility to Protect and Norms Governing Private Military and Security Companies”, Annals of the Fondazione Luigi Einaudi, 53(1): 81-90.
The theme of Globalization and International Conflict is highly relevant in a context of enduring wars and global changes. Increased violent conflict around the world is raising human and economic costs, the refugee population is at its highest numbers since World War II. This article reflects on these themes by commenting on recent work by Jennifer Welsh on individualization and the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP). The discussion includes findings from my own research as well as my recent contribution on technologies for peace and conflict prevention to the United Nations and World Bank report “Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict”. Such technologies include social media evidence submitted by individuals, which allows for observation and reporting of atrocities, such as the use of sarin gas in Syria. Although the use of social media poses a threat to authoritarian governments, state actors have become adept at countering their influence and may be able to stem the apparent decline in the role of the state. Although private military and security companies (PMSCs) are often understood as challenges to the state, it is the states themselves that hire the organizations and that engage in shaping the norms that seek to govern them. The article includes a comparison between the evolution of norms governing RtoP and PMSCs.