Humanitarian Intervention

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  • Humanitarian interventions
    • Why did they increase in the 1990s?
      • The Cold War was over so the UNSC was no longer divided between the US and the USSR, making action easier.
      • Advances in broadcasting technology made human rights abuses harder to conceal.
      • Establishment of UN safe havens to protect the Kurds in Iraq in 1991 challenged Westphalian principles of state sovereignty.
      • Human suffering and potential for regional instability caused by inaction was shown by failures to intervene soon enough in Rwanda and Bosnia.
      • UN secretary-generals Boutros Boutros Ghali and Kofi Annan put their moral weight behind humanitarian intervention.
    • Criteria for success
      • Commitment to subsequent nation-building.
      • Realistic objectives
      • Sufficient military force
      • International or regional support
    • Why did unsuccessful humanitarian interventions fail?
      • Unrealistic aims (Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan)
      • Lacked legitimacy (Iraq)
      • Were too late (Rwanda, Darfur)
      • Insufficient commitment to military force or nation-building (Bosnia, Libya)
      • Often these factors overlapped, leading to failure.
    • Why did successful humanitarian interventions succeed?
      • Sufficient military force was deployed (Bosnia, Kosovo)
      • Realistic objectives (Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire, East Timor)
      • Strong commitment to nation-building (Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor)
      • Strong international or regional support (Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire, East Timor)
      • In most cases all these criteria were fulfilled, encouraging success.
    • For humanitarian intervention to occur, what do world leaders need to be convinced of?
      • There's moral ground to intervene
      • Intervention won't provoke a wider conflict.
      • Military force could resolve the conflict
      • Lack of action could threaten interests
      • International or regional support
    • What are the moral and legal issues associated with humanitarian intervention?
      • Forcible intervention assumes there are universal moral absolutes that unite the world.
        • Western interventions could equally be seen as a form of cultural imperialism.
      • Intervening states may use humanitarian grounds as a facade to increase their power and further their own interests, or even to control or annexe another state.
      • Intervention isn't guaranteed to improve the situation on the ground. Use of force may lead to more loss of life as war escalates.
      • Forcible intervention goes against principles of state sovereignty.
      • Intervention can be seen as contravening 'just-war' theory, as it's not a last resort. Could be seen as another way of starting a war.


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