Dr Jason Ralph's Publications
Special Issue Symposium: The Responsibility to Protect and Prosecute, ed. by Ralph JG, Criminal Law Forum (Springer, 2015), 26, 1-179,
America's War on Terror. The State of the 9/11 Exception from Bush to Obama (Oxford University Press, 2013),
Defending the Society of States: Why America Opposes the International Criminal Court and its Vision of World Society ([n.pub.], 2007), 1-256,
© Jason Ralph 2007. All rights reserved. This book is among the first to address the issues raised by the International Criminal Court from an International Relations perspective. By clearly outlining a theoretical framework to interpret these issues, it makes a significant contribution to the English School's study of international society. More specifically, it offers a concise definition of 'world society' and thus helps to resolve a longstanding problem in international theory. This groundbreaking conceptual work is supported by an indepth empirical analysis of American opposition to the ICC. The book goes beyond the familiar arguments related to national interests and argues that the Court has exposed the extent to which American notions of accountability are tied to the nation-state. Where other democracies are willing to renegotiate their social contract because they see themselves as part of world society, the US protects its particular contract with 'the American people' because it offers a means of distinguishing that nation and its democracy from the rest of the world. In opposing the ICC, therefore, the US seeks to defend a society of states because this kind of society can accommodate American exceptionalism and advance particular US interests. This 'sovereigntist', or more accurately 'Americanist', influence is further illustrated in chapters on the customary international law, universal jurisdiction, transatlantic relations and US policy on international humanitarian law in the war on terror. The book concludes by evoking E.H. Carr's criticism of those great powers who claim that a harmony exists between their particular interests and those of wider society. It also recalls his argument that great powers sometimes need to compromise and in this context it argues that support for the ICC is a more effective means of fulfilling America's purpose and a less costly sacrifice for the US to make than that demanded by the 'Americanist' policy of nation-building.
Defending the Society of States: Why America Opposes the International Criminal Court and Its Vision of World Society (Oxford University Press, 2007), 254p,
The literature on the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been dominated by legal texts. This is the first single authored book length project to address the issues raised by the ICC from an International Relations perspective. It addresses this shortcoming of the IR literature with an in-depth empirical analysis of the Court and American opposition to it. The book also explicitly addresses significant theoretical questions in the study of international society, which have been given a high profile in the International Relations community thanks mainly to the reconvening of “the English School” by Barry Buzan and Richard Little. The book develops the English School research agenda by using its theoretical framework to analyse recent developments in the field of international criminal justice. It offers a concise definition of ‘world society’, which helps to resolve a longstanding problem of English School theory. America’s opposition to the ICC has exposed key characteristics of America’s political identity. The book discusses these at length and thus makes an important contribution to the contemporary debate on the nature of American power. Finally, the war on terrorism has had a major impact on the US approach to international law and international humanitarian law. Making use of the documentary evidence released after the Abu Ghraib scandal, the book examines how these policy debates, the subsequent scandal and the 2004 Supreme Court decision influences the future debate on the ICC.
Beyond the security dilemma: ending America's cold war, 224 (Ashgate, 2001), ix, 213p,
‘What Should Be Done? Pragmatic Constructivist Ethics and the Responsibility to Protect’, International Organization, 72.1 (2018), 173-203,
DOI: 10.1017/S0020818317000455, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/114443/
© 2017 The IO Foundation. In this paper I examine what constructivist approaches to IR tell us about how states should act when confronted by atrocity crimes in the context of a politically pluralist international society. Building on the work of theorists who responded to Richard Price and Christian Reus-Smit's call to substantiate the constructivist's claim to explain moral progress, and to better inform normative assessments, I claim that the constructivist emphasis on historical and social contingency does not rule out ethical standpoints, suggesting instead a pragmatic ethic. Norms are hypotheses rather than absolute values. The task of the pragmatic constructivist is not to establish beyond doubt the normativity of a norm - the task is to test the norm for how well its meaning-in-use supports action that ameliorates lived social problems. Pragmatic constructivists can commit to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) as an idea that might reconcile various communities of normative practice and ameliorate vulnerability without upsetting international order. To the extent particular practices (e.g., prevention) have proven (and continue to prove) useful in doing this, pragmatic constructivists can equate the institutionalization of those practices with normative progress. However, R2P is a complex norm. It recognizes that knowledge of how to respond to ongoing atrocity is context specific and cannot therefore be fixed. The task of the pragmatic constructivist here is to assess the practical judgment of those that claim to speak for the norm by weighing the consequences of acting out their prescription in the specific context of a particular crisis. I test the meanings of R2P in use during the Syria crisis from 2011 to 2012. R2P was problematic to the extent certain meanings reinforced policy ends (e.g., protection through political/criminal accountability) that were impractical and pursued at the expense of non-ideal but realizable goals (e.g., protection through peace/aid).
‘Before the vote: UK foreign policy discourse on Syria 2011-2013’, Review of International Studies, 43.5 (2017), 875-897,
DOI: 10.1017/S0260210517000134, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/112062/
The literature of recent UK policy toward Syria focuses on the 2013 chemical weapons crisis. We examine policy discourses leading up to that. The government supported the removal of Assad but faced the challenge of explaining how that would be realized. Given its unwillingness and inability to mobilise support for military intervention, or to tailor policy goals to match available means, government strategy arguably lacked credibility. Our purpose is to examine how the government tried to close this ends means gap and how, having failed to do that, its ‘discursive strategy’ legitimised its approach. We argue the resources for the government’s discursive strategy on Syria can be found in the earlier articulation of ‘liberal conservatism’. A policy that from an ideal-liberal or ideal-conservative position might have been criticised as half-baked was maintained by a strategy that gave consideration to, but did not completely follow through on, either archetype. Drawing on an analysis of 2152 sources and supplemented by elite interviews, we illustrate how this strategy managed the interplay of two basic discourses: a liberal insistence that the UK should support ‘the Arab Spring’ and a conservative insistence that military intervention was imprudent because ‘Syria was not Libya’.
‘The purpose of United Nations Security Council practice: Contesting competence claims in the normative context created by the Responsibility to Protect’, European Journal of International Relations, 23.3 (2017), 630-653,
DOI: 10.1177/1354066116669652, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/103089/
© 2016, © The Author(s) 2016. Practice theory provides important insights into the workings of the Security Council. The contribution is currently limited, however, by the conjecture that practice theory operates on ‘a different analytical plane’ to norm/normative theory. Building on existing critiques, we argue that analysing practices separately from normative positions risks misappropriating competence and reifying practice that is not fit for purpose. This risk is realized in Adler-Nissen and Pouliot’s practice-based account of the Libya crisis. By returning the normative context created by the Responsibility to Protect to the analytical foreground, and by drawing on a pragmatic conception of ‘ethical competence’, we find that pre-reflexive practices uncritically accepted as markers of competence — for example, ‘penholding’ — can contribute to the Council’s failure to act collectively in the face of mass atrocity. Drawing on extensive interview material, we offer an alternative account of the Libya intervention, finding that the practices of the permanent three (France, the UK and the US) did not cultivate the kind of collective consciousness that is required to implement the Responsibility to Protect. This is further illustrated by an account of the Security Council’s failure in Syria, where the permanent three’s insistence on regime change instrumentalized the Council at the expense of Responsibility to Protect-appropriate practice. This changed when elected members became ‘penholders’. Practice theory can facilitate learning processes that help the Council meet its responsibilities, but only through an approach that combines its insights with those of norm/normative theory.
‘The responsibility to protect and the rise of China: Lessons from Australia's role as a 'pragmatic' norm entrepreneur’, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, 17.1 (2017), 35-65,
DOI: 10.1093/irap/lcw002, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/95961/
© The Author 2016. The purpose of this article is to explore the development of a norm that emerged during a period of unqualified American hegemony - the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) - and to ask what the rise of China means for R2P norm entrepreneurs like Australia. It argues that by underpinning great power identity claims, which are instantiated by the assertion of normative positions occasionally at odds with liberal states, the rise of China has helped to highlight the contested nature of the R2P norm, in particular the license it notionally gives to the pursuit of externally imposed regime change. Drawing on an innovative combination of critical constructivism and philosophical pragmatism the paper argues that liberal states can better promote R2P in this increasingly pluralist international order by adopting a pragmatic approach to norm diffusion. This balances the demands of a dialog that is sensitive to Chinese concerns with the defense of the substantive core of the norm, human protection. It is further argued that Australia's geopolitical position to Chinese power and an embedded identity narrative of Australia as a 'middle power' demonstrates a potential to act as a pragmatic norm entrepreneur. Indeed, Australia's recent activity on the UN Security Council can be characterized in these terms.
‘Introduction: The Responsibility to Protect and the Refugee Protection Regime’, Ethics and International Affairs, 31.1 (2017), 47-50,
DOI: 10.1017/S0892679416000654, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/110173/
‘A special responsibility to protect: The UK, Australia and the Rise of Islamic State’, International Affairs, 91.4 (2015), 709-723,
DOI: 10.1111/1468-2346.12339, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/87282/
In the summer of 2014 Islamic State (IS) emerged as a threat to the Iraqi people. In this article we ask whether the UK and Australia had a ‘special’ responsibility to protect (R2P) those being threatened. We focus on two middle-ranking powers (as opposed to the US) because we seek to highlight the significance of special responsibilities that flow only from principle rather than capability. Despite casting their response in terms of a general responsibility, we contend that the UK and Australia did indeed bear a special responsibility based on the widely-held principle of reparation. Rather than making the argument that the 2003 coalition that invaded Iraq created IS, we argue that it is the vulnerable position in which Iraqis were placed as a consequence of the invasion that grounds the UK and Australia’s special responsibility to protect. We address the claim that the UK and Australia were not culpable because they did not act negligently or recklessly in 2003 by drawing on Tony Honoré’s concept of ‘outcome responsibility’. The finding of a special responsibility is significant because it often thought of as being more demanding than a general responsibility. In this context, we argue the response of these two states falls short of reasonable moral expectations. This does not mean the UK and Australia should be doing more militarily. R2P does not begin and end with military action. Rather we argue the special responsibility to protect can be discharged through humanitarian aid and a more generous asylum policy.
‘Legitimacy Faultlines in International Society. The Responsibility to Protect and Prosecute after Libya’, Review of International Studies, 41.3 (2015), 553-573,
DOI: 10.1017/S0260210514000242, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/87280/
There is a perceived legitimacy deficit in contemporary international society. A symptom of this is the political contestation surrounding the 2011 Libyan crisis and its influence on the 2011–13 Syrian crisis. This involved criticism being levelled at the coalition led by the so-called Permanent-3 for the way they implemented the protection of civilians mandate, as well as for the referral of the Libyan situation to the International Criminal Court. How the P3 respond to these developments will be driven in part by how this ‘legitimacy fault line’ is interpreted. The purpose of this article is to first give an interpretation that is informed by the work of contemporary English School scholars and the political theorists they draw on; and second to provide the context in which specific policy recommendations may guide the response of the P3 states. We argue that because the new legitimacy fault line divides on the procedural question of who decides how international society should meet its responsibilities rather than substantive disagreements about what those responsibilities are (that is, human protection and justice) the challenge to the liberal agenda of the P3 is not radical. However, we also argue that ignoring the procedural concerns of the African and BRICS states is not outcome neutral and could in fact do harm to both the ICC and the wider implementation of R2P. We consider two proposals for procedural reform and examine how the P3 response would impact on their claim to be good international citizens.
‘Symposium: International Criminal Justice and the Responsibility to Protect’, Criminal Law Forum, 26.1 (2015), 1-12,
DOI: 10.1007/s10609-015-9254-3, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/87284/
© 2015 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. This article introduces the special issue and identifies three key contributions. First, RtoP advocates are right to mark the progress that has been made, but that should not- and generally does not- lead norm diffusers to rest on their laurels or to fall into a complacency that sees moral progress as inevitable. Second, the burden of concrete protection practices- whether they be reflected in contributions to peacekeeping missions or the granting of asylum- is being unfairly distributed across international society. This hierarchy is potentially destabilising and it demands that the great powers- or those laying claim to that identity- recognise their 'special responsibility to protect'. Third, the great powers do have an important responsibility to reconcile the demands of human protection and international peace and security. It is difficult to reconcile these if we look narrowly at the former in terms of intervention, especially military intervention. Reiterating RtoP to remind states that other prudent options are available- such as receiving refugees- is an important step, especially in the current context.
© 2015 by the author; licensee Cogitatio (Lisbon, Portugal). This commentary examines whether R2P is a fully-fledged norm. As a normative aspiration R2P is almost universally accepted. However as a standard of behaviour that states implement as a matter of course R2P is far from fully-fledged. By examining state responses to refugee crises in Syria it is argued that powerful states are failing in their special responsibility to protect.
‘The liberal state in international society. Interpreting recent British foreign policy’, International Relations Journal 2013,
DOI: 10.1177/0047117813486822, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/76525/
The question of who decides when a state has not met its international responsibilities (and therefore forfeits the right to non-intervention) and what kind of international action should be taken (from limited intervention to full-blown regime change) divides liberal foreign policy thinking. To understand the nature of that division, and what is at stake, this article distinguishes ‘neoliberal’ from ‘liberal internationalist’ approaches and locates them in an English School understanding of international society. Where the latter stresses the importance of observing the procedural norms centred on the United Nations, the former contests the legitimacy of such norms if they fail to deliver substantive liberal outcomes. The article then interprets British foreign policy discourse either side of the 2003 Iraq conflict through the prism of this debate. The central claim is that a more cautious approach to the use of force and American unilateralism has not silenced the critique of the UN system and that the international reaction to the Libyan intervention prompts the kind of reflection that continues to separate neoliberal from liberal internationalist approaches.
‘No longer special? Britain and the United States after Iraq’, International Politics 2013, 1-27,
‘Democracy promotion and human rights in US foreign policy’, International Journal of Human Rights, 15.4 (2011), 509-519,
The origins of this special issue are found in the theme of the fifth annual meeting of the British International Studies Association (BISA) Working Group on US Foreign Policy, which took place at the University of Leeds, September 2010. At that time President Obama was approaching the mid-point of his first term in office. The obvious question to ask was whether his presidency had changed anything at all, or had the Bush administration's approach to foreign relations persisted. All but one of the articles in this special issue were presented at that conference and all of them address this question, either by providing background to our understanding, or specifically addressing the question of Obama's impact. The conference theme of democracy promotion and human rights in foreign policy was designed to isolate the kind of evidence that helps us to address the question of continuity or change. These concepts and their place in foreign policy have, after all, been the subject of fierce debate since the founding fathers based the United States on principles that they believed to be universal and therefore exportable. It is generally assumed that liberals like Obama advocate policies designed to advance the democratic cause worldwide. They reject narrow definitions of the national interest based exclusively on America's material wellbeing; and indeed Obama seemingly reinforced this on the campaign trail with his promise to restore America's moral standing, so that it 'is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom'. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.
‘After Chilcot. The doctrine of international community and the UK decision to invade Iraq’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations 2011,
This article draws on the publicly available oral and documentary evidence produced by the Iraq Inquiry to interrogate the policy impact of the ‘doctrine of international community’, which Tony Blair first articulated during the 1999 Kosovo campaign. Guided by that doctrine, the UK's objective was to reconcile US policy and the UN Security Council. There were two ways to do this: to convince the Bush administration that disarming Iraq was enough and that regime change was a step too far; or to convince the Security Council that disarmament was insufficient and that regime change was necessary. Unfortunately both these strategies failed to deliver the UK objective. To go to war under these circumstances revealed a flaw in the original doctrine, which was to assume that individual states could speak for international society even when they were opposed by a majority of states on the UN Security Council.
‘Introduction: Democracy Promotion and Human Rights in US Foreign Policy’, International Journal of Human Rights (special issue ed. by Jason Ralph and Oz Hassan), 15 (2011),
‘Pol-casting: The use of podcasting in the teaching and learning of politics and international relations’, European Political Science, 9.1 (2010), 13-24,
This article explores the use of podcasts in the learning and teaching of Politics and International Relations in a UK Higher Education institution. The article has three main sections. The first explores the pedagogic issues associated with the use of podcasts. The second highlights examples of good practice for using podcast material in lectures/seminars. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it outlines student attitudes to the use of podcasts within learning and teaching. © 2010 European Consortium for Political Research.
‘War as an institution of international hierarchy. Carl Schmitt's Theory of the Partisan and Contemporary American Practice’, Millennium, 39.2 (2010),
‘Which Cosmopolitanism? Whose Empire? Or Why the Schmittian Charge of "Liberal Imperialism" is Only half Right’, Global Society, 23.3 (2009), 207-224,
‘The Laws of War and the State of the American Exception’, Review of International Studies 2009, 631-649,
The article examines the US response to the 9-11 terrorist attacks using the Carl Schmitt’s concept of the exception. It argues that the Bush administration's response is consistent with Schmitt’s view that US policy replicates the historical practice of drawing lines that separate ‘civilisation’ from zones of exception where the normal laws governing warfare do not apply. This suggests that the state of exception declared after 9-11 is not contingent on the rise and fall of the terrorist threat, rather it is the latest manifestation of ‘global linear thinking’ and therefore a permanent feature of American hegemony. However, the article does not accept this pessimistic conclusion. US policy since 9-11 fits squarely with a Schmittian explanation only because conservative nationalists have used the war on terror to help reconstruct a sense of American 'exceptionalism'. An alternative reading of how American liberalism should respond to terrorism can be found in the manner in which the administration’s policy has been rejected by the US Supreme Court.
‘America's War on Terrorism. Making Sense of the "Troubling Confusion’, The International Journal of Human Rights, 10.2 (2006), 234-256,
This review article summarises and analyses several books in the area of US foreign policy, international law and human rights. It assesses the contribution made by these books and offers an original perspective on the US decision to declare 'war' on terrorism rather than approach the issue from the perspective of international criminal law.
‘International society, the International Criminal Court and American foreign policy’, Review of International Studies, 31.1 (2005), 27-44,
‘The International Criminal Court and the Uneasy Revolution in International Society’, The International Journal of Human Rights, 8.2 (2004), 235-247,
‘Between Cosmopolitan and American Democracy: Understanding US Opposition to the International Criminal Court’, International Relations, 17.2 (2003), 195-211,
The ICC can be seen as a cosmopolitan response to the problems of global democracy. This article demonstrates how opponents of the Court use a concern for international order to disguise a policy motivated by a narrow conception of the national interest. US opposition reveals the extent to which it fears being held accountable for the way America uses the great power veto on the UN Security Council. America’s opposition to the Court has also succeeded in bringing to the surface the extent to which American foreign policy is driven by communitarian conceptions of democracy and international society. Despite promising to hold power accountable for egregious human rights violations the Court is considered a threat to American sovereignty and dismissed as undemocratic. The article argues that this communitarian understanding of democracy promotion will be increasingly problematic as the processes of globalisation undermine the capacity of states to guarantee human rights.
‘American Democracy and Democracy Promotion’, International Affairs, 77.1 (2001), pp.129–140,
‘Security Dilemmas and the end of the Cold War’, Review of International Studies, 25 (1999), 721-725,
‘Review Article: Realising Realism's Role in US Policy Towards Europe’, European Security, 7.4 (1998), 172-186,
‘The International Criminal Court’, in The Oxford Handbook of the Responsibility to Protect, ed. by Bellamy AJ and Dunne T (Oxford University Press, 2016),
DOI: 10.0.4.69/oxfordhb/9780198753841.001.0001, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/87323/
The responsibility to protect and the International Criminal Court share a recent history and a similar normative structure. The responsibilities to protect and prosecute reside first and foremost in the state and both normative regimes insist that a residual responsibility rests with international society. Yet R2P has not sought to allocate residual responsibility to an institution that notionally transcends power politics. For some critics, R2P should follow the ICC’s lead and delegate decision-making on humanitarian intervention to a supranational body. By focusing on the continuing politicization of international criminal justice under the ICC this chapter illustrates how R2P’s difficulties cannot be fixed by simply creating independent judicial bodies. A more consistent approach to R2P is contingent on a changed conception of P5 responsibility. Changing legal frameworks without changing this political reality will simply add to the disappointment of those who lament the compromises made in the World Summit Outcome Document.
‘The International Criminal Court and the State of the American exception’, in International and Comparative Criminal Justice and Urban Governance, ed. by Crawford A (Cambridge Univ Pr, 2011),
by the ICC with any crime, ...
‘George F. Kennan. American Diplomacy’, in Volumes of Influence (Manchester University Press, 2011),
‘A difficult relationship. Britain's doctrine of international community and America's war on terror’, in British Foreign Policy: The New Labour Years, ed. by Gaskarth J (Palgrave, 2011),
‘To usher in a new paradigm? President Bush's foreign policy legacy’, in Assessing the George W. Bush Presidency: A Tale of Two Terms ([n.pub.], 2009), 77-99,
‘Anarchy is what criminal lawyers (and other actors) make of it. International criminal justice and the social construction of world society’, in Governance, Order, and the International Criminal Court, ed. by Roach S (Oxford University Press, 2009),
‘Republic, Empire or Good International Citizen? International Law and American Identity’, in US National Identity in the 21st Century, ed. by Christie K (Routledge, 2008), 85-100,
Because it has traditionally codified the independence of distinct legal and political communities, international law has played a central role in the social processes that construct statehood. In fact the early American Republic embraced what was then referred to as the law of nations as a means of consolidating the sovereignty of its people and securing its place among an international society of sovereign states. However, as international society has evolved to include all human beings as rights bearing citizens and as it considers delegating judicial authority to supranational courts in order to protect those rights, the match between republican and internationalist principles has come under threat. Indeed the argument that the US must oppose certain developments in international law in order to protect its founding principles is now heard with increasing frequency. This chapter explores this tension and what it means for American identity by mapping the debate on the application of international human rights and humanitarian law in American and international courts. It does this with specific reference to the debates on the Alien Tort Statute, the International Criminal Court and Guantanamo Bay. Its central argument is that those who oppose the direct application of international human rights and humanitarian law in American courts are obviously motivated by a need to defend the republic against unaccountable judges applying a law that has not gained the consent of the American people. Likewise, those who oppose the International Criminal Court are motivated by a concern that the Court’s independent prosecutor is unaccountable and therefore a threat to the values that underpin the American republic. The paper concludes, however, by arguing that as long as this discourse allows the US government to use its power overseas without check, balance or redress, then that discourse risks becoming part of a process that helps to defend Empire rather than one that helps to advance Liberty.
‘High Stakes' and 'Low-Intensity Democracy': Understanding America's Policy of Promoting Democracy’, in American Democracy Promotion: Impulses, Srategies and Impacts, ed. by Cox M, Ikenberry GJ and Inoguchi T (Oxford University Press, 2000), 200-217,
‘Persistent Dilemmas: US National Security Policy in the Post-Cold War Era’, in International Security in a Global Age: Security in the 21st Century, ed. by Jones CA and Kennedy-Pipe C (Frank Cass, 2000), 28-56,
Mainstreaming Responsibility to Protect in UK Strategy. Improving the Government's Response to Threat of Mass Atrocity, (United Nations Association UK, 2014),
Viewpoints: What should the UK's future global role be?, (BBC News, 2013),
Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander has said the UK must avoid "knee-jerk interventionism" and "knee-jerk isolationism", during a discussion about the future global role of the UK at Labour's conference on Monday. What should that role be?
The vote was not British isolationism. It was about the legitimacy of international action, FPC Articles and Briefings, (The Foreign Policy Centre, 2013),
Tony Blair's 'new doctrine of international community' and the UK decision to invade Iraq, POLIS Working Paper, 20, (POLIS, 2005): 1-31.,