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Under what circumstances do you think states should intervene in humanitarian crises?

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  1. Introduction
  2. Traditional approaches in humanitarian interventions
    1. Theoretical objections to humanitarian interventions
    2. Theoretical approaches in favour of humanitarian intervention: Solidarist international society theory
    3. The ambiguous case of the United Nations
  3. A renewal of approaches since the end of the Cold War: practice and theory
    1. NATO's humanitarian intervention in Kosovo: Making or breaking international law?
    2. The effects of globalization and the arising of non- forcible intervention
  4. Conclusion

Humanitarian intervention deals with two academic fields: political philosophy and international law. The question of intervention depends on the morality and on the legality of the intervention. Is humanitarian intervention a moral duty for states? Is humanitarian intervention a right for states? Those two questions will be the core of our argument in this essay.

[...] Theoretical objections to humanitarian interventions In a first point, the debate over the reasons for states to intervene in humanitarian crises shall be considered. Some theorists of humanitarian intervention argue that, in case of gross human rights violations, states are only motivated to intervene by sympathy. Bikhu Parekh presents humanitarian intervention as act wholly or primarily guided by the sentiment of humanity, compassion or fellow-feeling and [ ] in that sense disinterested'[2]. Nevertheless, one of the key assumptions of realism is that states are primarily driven by national interests. [...]


[...] ?NATO's humanitarian intervention in Kosovo: making or breaking international law?'[12] It is on March 24th that member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) launched military operations against Yugoslavia. The operation Allied Force aimed at ?halting the violence and bringing an end to the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Kosovo?[13]. This intervention in Kosovo changed drastically traditional international law. We will try to determine if the operation Allied Force led to the consecration of a right to humanitarian intervention. The operation Allied Force marked the consecration of a right to intervene humanitarianly. [...]


[...] The so-called counter-restrictionists argue that even before the UN Charter had been adopted, customary international law recognized humanitarian intervention by states as a legal practice since states acted in that way, thinking they had a right to do so. This intellectual posture has obviously been rejected by restrictionists (cf. Franck and Rodley for instance[5] Solidarists are also interested in justifying morally humanitarian intervention. They agree with the restrictionist argument of possible abuses in case of a total legalization of humanitarian interventions. [...]

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