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Humanitarian intervention: The responsibility to protect (R2P)

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The progressive recognition of a need to protect human rights.
    1. The contrasted etymology of the notion of 'humanitarian intervention'.
    2. Humanitarian crises: The reaction of scholars and of the public.
    3. 1990s: A decade of development of humanitarian intervention.
  3. Criticism towards humanitarian interventions.
    1. A problem of sovereignty.
    2. The questions of procedures.
  4. The new concept of 'responsibility to protect'.
  5. Conclusion.
  6. Bibliography.

The protection of human rights is now considered as an important element of International Law. However, if there are frequent calls for ?humanitarian interventions? (that is ?coercive action against a state to protect people within its border from suffering grave harm? ) like in Darfur, and if the debate concerning this notion has a long history, the real emergence of modern humanitarian interventions is relatively recent. The concept has been criticized and challenged, it has evolved and several notions are almost synonymous: ?right of intervention?, ?humanitarian intervention? and now ?responsibility to protect?. ? The contrasted etymology of the notion of ?humanitarian intervention?
The first use of the notion of ?humanitarian intervention? can be found in the actions organized by the European ?Holy Alliance? in 1815 against the Ottoman Empire, ?in favor of presumably persecuted Christian populations.?

[...] Its report responsibility to protect? challenges traditional conception of sovereignty and humanitarian interventions.] Responsibility to Protect engaging civil society (url: [This website intends to promote the recommendations of the ICISS report and provides up-to-date information on the Responsibility to Protect, its use by the UN, and links to important UN documents and press releases.] Gareth Evans and Mohamed Sahnoun, Responsibility to Protect?, in Foreign Affairs, Nov.-Dec Hans Köchler, Use of Force in the NIO: on problematic nature of the concept of ?humanitarian intervention'?, in International Law and Interventionism in the World Order'. [...]

[...] For the first time, NATO (which claimed that it was enforcing former resolutions) used humanitarians grounds to justify its action.(NATO Press release 1999/040) Belgrade took the case before the ICJ claiming that there was no right to humanitarian intervention and that even in such a case, the intervention was however not one. The Independent International (?Goldstone?) Commission concluded that NATO's action in using force against Yugoslavia, although not strictly legal, was ?legitimate?.[15] Clinton who had publicly apologized for the absence of US reaction in Rwanda and European leaders could not and wait? for an obvious genocide. [...]

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