Contemporary World Problems Paper
Humanitarian intervention has become one of the most highly debated topics in current international politics. An example of this that can found in the news is President Obama stating “we are not going to be getting into a military excursion in Ukraine. What we are going to do is mobilize all of our diplomatic resources to make sure that we’ve got a strong international correlation that sends a clear message,” in regards to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, more specifically Crimea. In this post Cold War Era, this issue of humanitarian intervention has been argued over, sanctioned, used without permission, and gained momentum and force in international relations. However, this problem international issue did not always exist.
The act of intervening in a different sovereign state’s affairs for humanitarian purposes has been an issue of public international law since the 19th century. The turn of the 19th century brought on an influx of issues going from a state level to an international level. Since then, international councils have been created to be solely dedicated to defining, regulating, and sanctioning humanitarian intervention. Today’s current authority over international security is the UNSC and their view on humanitarian intervention is as follows: “International law forbids the use of force except for purposes of self-defense and collective enforcement action authorized by the UN Security Council (UNSC).” While countries may adhere to these sanctions or completely ignore them, a new element has been added- should the humanitarian intervention be armed or not.
Armed humanitarian intervention is one of the primary international security problems today. This is an international issue and not a sovereign state issue because the weapons would travel over boarders and between multiple sovereignties. The main issue is the lack of rules and standards to determine when humanitarian intervention, especially armed humanitarian intervention, is justified and necessary.
Before discussing armed humanitarian intervention, a definition of humanitarian intervention is necessary. Humanitarian intervention in a military sense is defined as "military
intervention with the goal of protecting the lives and welfare of foreign civilians.” Other definitions include “helping create conditions in which a viable structure of civil authority can
emerge” and "dictatorial or coercive interference in the sphere of jurisdiction of a sovereign state.” Humanitarian intervention also includes humanitarian aide and international sanctions, but for the purposes of this paper the definition regarding military is the one that is most appropriate due to the focus on the intervention being done with armed forces.
Although humanitarian intervention can be loosely defined, there are few legal standards or definitions. However, there are some basic characteristics of most cases of humanitarian intervention. It must...