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‘Is Humanitarian Military Intervention An Example Of A Justified War.’

1464 words - 6 pages

Humanitarian intervention is one of the most controversial topics in world politics today. This is due to the ethical dilemma at the core of humanitarian intervention – that it violates a state’s sovereignty in the name of upholding human rights and human security (Lang: 2002). Despite it being heavily contested, humanitarian intervention is commonly employed by international organisations today as a way to address human rights violations committed within a state’s domestic politics. Therefore, humanitarian intervention is often described as a contemporary form within the just war tradition. However, a central question is whether intervention can be legitimate and if so, under what ...view middle of the document...

A commonly accepted definition of intervention is ‘the exercise of authority by one state within the jurisdiction of another state without its permission. However, intervention only becomes humanitarian when its aim is to protect innocent people who are not nationals of the intervening state from violence perpetrated or permitted by the government of the target state’ (Nardin, 2006: 1). Humanitarian intervention arose to prominence with the Westphalian state system; which also founded the notion of sovereignty. Although this still persists, the very concept of intervention has a complex past. For instance, when International law came into the fore of international politics after the cold war it realised the dilemmas faced by humanitarian intervention in regards to upholding the human rights. Both gave arguments that supported the concept of humanitarian intervention. Yet today, the fundamental values of humanitarianism and global justice have led to non-intervention becoming a dominant norm in international society. The basic argument of humanitarian intervention is that the international community is, or at least should be justified in using armed force to protect human beings in any state where a government may be committing ‘serious war crimes’ or systematic violations on the human rights of it’s citizens. In more recent times, the concept of humanitarian intervention has evolved to include a whole range of notions of human rights to human security – one of the central doctrines of international relations and global politics today. Humanitarian intervention may arguably be justified under the liberal internationalist approach in the interest of human security. Yet, to assure that intervention takes place in the interests of humanitarian interests, it must be critically examined.

Anthony Lang begins his discussion on the normative and explanatory theories of humanitarian intervention, which is not only ethical, but it is also based in religion, law, and politics (Lang, 2010). Realism is a normative theory of international relations that attributes every action by a state not in humanitarian or altruistic interests, but to the pursuit of power in order to provide security for the intervening state. The realist approach emerges from the liberal internationalist paradigm, whereby intervention is justified under a plethora of factors in the international system where only the most powerful agents have control over the world. Just war theory an extremely old tradition, which far pervades the foundations of Western politics and sovereignty. Thomas Aquinas, an early theorist of war, saw the government as responsible for the common good and responsibility of its people. This means that they might eventually have to utilise force to fulfil this responsibility. Aquinas also saw that in order for a war to be justified, that there must be a legitimate cause that the party under attack must have committed a serious wrong doing (Rengger: 2010). Today,...

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