Criticisms of humanitarian intervention

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  • Why has humanitarian intervention been criticised?
    • Humanitarian Intervention
      • Military intervention
      • Carried out in pursuit of humanitarian rather than strategic objectives
    • Any violation of state sovereignty weakens the established rules of world order
    • Aggression has almost always been legitimised by humanitarian justification
      • Meaning it is difficult to distinguish between the self-interest of intervening powers and wider moral concerns
    • Military intervention often leaves matters worse, or draws intervening powers into complex and difficult long-term involvement
    • National interests - Realists argue that states are concerned with national interest and their justification is an example of political mendacity
    • Double standards - There are many examples of pressing humanitarian emergencies in which intervention is ruled out because no national interest is at stake
      • Because of absence of media coverage or politically impossible - e.g. Tibet
    • Moral pluralism - cultural imperialism based on Western notion of human rights that may not be applicable in other parts of the world
      • Cultural and religious differences make it difficult to establish universal guidelines


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