Rising Powers, Responsibility and International Society

Jamie Gaskarth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
439 Downloads (Pure)


Responsibility is a key theme of recent debates over the ethics of international society. In particular, rising powers such as Brazil, China, and India regularly reject the idea that coercion should be a feature of world politics and portray military intervention as irresponsible. But this raises the problem of how a society’s norms can be upheld without coercive measures. Critics have accused them of “free riding” on existing great powers and failing to address the dilemma of how you deal with actors undermining societal values. This article examines writing on responsibility and international society, with reference to the English School, to identify why the willingness and capacity to use force—as well as creative thinking in this regard—are seen as important aspects of responsibility internationally. It then explores the statements made by Brazil, China, and India in UN Security Council meetings between 2011 and 2016 to uncover which actors they see as responsible and how they define responsible action. In doing so, it pinpoints areas of concurrence as well as disagreements in their understandings of the concept and concludes that Brazil and India have a more coherent and practical understanding of responsibility than China, which risks being labelled a “great irresponsible.”
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-311
Number of pages26
JournalEthics & International Affairs
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2017


  • Rising Powers
  • responsibility
  • English School
  • Brazil
  • China
  • India
  • UN Security Council


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