Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science


Dr. Richard Vernon


Based on the contention that having a clearer understanding o f where responsibility lies for mass atrocity is necessarily prior to any hope of preventing it, the overarching goal of this thesis is to explore the notion of the United Nations as a moral agent in world politics with a duty to respond to the crime of genocide. First, it looks to the existing literature on both collective and institutional agency to develop an account of how international institutions - like the United Nations - may coherently be thought of as moral agents, capable of bearing responsibility for their behaviour. Second, building on arguments about its unique capacity and mandate to do so, it establishes that the United Nations can and should be considered the primary bearer of the duty to respond to genocide. Finally, using the case study of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, this study examines how factors both internal and external to the United Nations may affect its ability to discharge this duty, and therefore our ability to hold the organization responsible if it fails to fulfill it.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.