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'. 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?' 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”. 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. [...]
[...] wrongfulness of an act of a State not in conformity with an international obligation of that State is precluded if the author of the act in question has no other reasonable way, in a situation of distress, of saving the author's life or the lives of other persons entrusted to the author's care.' To conclude on this part, we can say that states do not have a unilateral right of humanitarian intervention. Only the Security Council holds such a right, even if it can be delegated to states in specific conditions (cf. [...]
[...] Theorists who deny to states any right to intervene in humanitarian crisis expose various arguments: state sovereignty, the fact that states are driven by their own interests, possible abuses of humanitarian intervention to serve intervening states' interests, difference of responses to human rights violation. Solidarists try to counter this restrictionist view of humanitarian intervention by justifying it legally and morally. Concerning the UN, two documents are particularly interesting regarding to the issue of humanitarian intervention: the article 2.4 of the United Nations Charter and the Drafts Articles on Responsibility on States of the International Law Commission. [...]
[...] By giving money to INGOs such as Red Cross or Médecins Sans Frontières states participate in humanitarian interventions without risking to be accused of violating any territorial sovereignty. Different cases are possible. The International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) opts for non-intervention if no agreement with the intervened state for the operation. Contrary to IFRC, MSF has chosen to defend humanitarian intervention as a right without conditions. As a conclusion to this part, new ways for state to intervene humanitarianly is to take into consideration globalization as the main changing factor of world politics. [...]
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