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Humanitarian Intervention: Questioning Of Its Legality

2001 words - 9 pages

War is a paradox. This is because people are killing in order to protect people from being killed. With war, often comes something known as “humanitarian intervention,” which is defined as the threat or use of force against states aimed at preventing or ending defilements of basic human rights, without the permission of the state that force is being directed toward (Holzgreffe & Keohane, 2003). Its main purpose is to relieve human suffering—but should it be executed? It’s a contradictory concept, which is why it yields so much criticism. Using violence to fight violence is like using fire to fight fire. Since humanitarian intervention sometimes occurs without the consent of the United Nations Security Council, it could be viewed as an infringement on sovereignty. Intervention such as NATO’s involvement in Kosovo is a prime example of this. In this essay, the legitimacy of humanitarian intervention, the political realism perspective on the subject and future outcome will be discussed.
Humanitarian intervention as a concept is believed to have first emerged after the Cold War. Because of democracy’s success over communism, states now assumed that military action could resolve many of the world’s problems and effectively end further conflict while protecting citizens. When new calamities hit certain countries fiercely and new technologies made it possible for suffering to be publicized, the world was unsure of how to respond (Goldstein & Western, 2011). In the case of Yugoslavia, UN intervention actually rendered the situation worse by formulating promises to shield citizens which were not kept, and attempting to preserve peace where there was no longer any in the midst of ethnic conflict. Critics held that it would only fuel a longer war and more violence because of the unsolicited intervention. NATO’s sending of peacekeepers to Bosnia during the conflict in an attempt to settle the rising turbulence was deemed fruitless. After the executions of prisoners in the UN claimed safe area, Srebrenica, the Clinton administration persuaded launched Operation Deliberate Force—NATO’s air strikes against the Bosnian Serb army (Goldstein & Western, 2011). This threat resulted in negotiation and the creation of the Dayton agreement, which subsequently ended the war. More peacekeepers were sent into the country and helped maintain a relative amount of peace for over 15 years. Later, powered by its previous success, NATO engaged in bombing Serbia in 1999 as a response to a conflict over the territory of Kosovo. This resulted in Serbia pulling its troops from Kosovo and the end of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic’s regime (Goldstein & Western, 2011). While this was seen as a success, many critics speculated the legality of interfering in the conflict. The ongoing debate of whether civilian protection trumps sovereignty is ever present.
There are compelling arguments on the status of its legitimacy. When focusing on its illegality, one must reference Article...

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