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Rama Mani
Senior Research Associate, Centre for International Studies (University of Oxford);
Director of the Global Project ‘Responsibility to Protect: Southern Cultural Perspectives’

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Summary

The book Responsibility to Protect: Cultural Perspectives in the Global South explores the extent to which R2P has achieved resonance within diverse cultures and within the experiences of societies that have been torn apart by mass atrocities. The contributors analyze R2P through philosophy, religion, aesthetics, and anthropology to explore perspectives outside of international law and international relations. Rama Mani, also a contributor to this book, argues that in order to comprehend interventions we first have to understand culture. Since culture is constantly adapting to changes, if we seek to understand it we are able to interpret the terrible problems caused and to gain an understanding of the potential for innovative, creative and more humane solutions.  She discusses how art is critically important to preventing conflict and can be seen as a way to communicate with the world, a way to heal, as a tool during peace operation and as a way to rebuild peace. When free speech is threatened, people find different ways to express themselves: either through visual art, graffiti, music or poetry. Mani believes that we have to see beyond the message and fine-tune our interventions to meet the real needs and desires of societies while tuning in to what is truly happening in that country by understanding their culture.

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Recorded January  2012