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What International Relations Theory Best Explains Humanitarian Intervention. What Is Your Critical View On The Effectiveness Of Humanitarian Inter...

1257 words - 6 pages

Humanitarian intervention can be defined as an ‘activity taken up by a state, a group within a state, a group of states, or an international organisation which interferes coercively in the domestic affairs of another state’. (Vincent, 1974, p.3) Now, depending of the school of thought, this can be seen in either a positive or negative light. For those who subscribe to the solidarity theory, the idea of humanitarian intervention is perfectly viable as those who favour the theory advocate in the enforcement of an international law that can combat the violation of human rights for instance. On the other hand, pluralist theorists feel the idea of intervention, humanitarian or not, is simply impermissible. Nevertheless, the liberal argument seems best to describe the concept of humanitarian intervention, arguing from the stance that it prevents or ends the abuse of human rights. In critical response to liberal thought on humanitarian intervention, some would argue that not only does intervention undermine the sovereignty of states, it also breaks down the required conditions for international order. (Ayoob, 2002, p.84)The effectiveness of humanitarian intervention is also called to question with several recent interventions deemed to be failures. The use of military constitutes a huge part of the problem and brings about the need for change in the humanitarian intervention process.
The liberal argument is no doubt the best to explain the reasons behind and the benefits of humanitarian intervention. Famous liberal thinker, John Stuart Mill, expressed that there was a distinction between going into aggressive wars for selfish reasons and going to war in order to prevent atrocities when he said ‘there assuredly are cases in which it is allowable to go to war, without having been ourselves attacked, or threatened with attack; and it is very important that nations should make up their minds in time, as to what these cases are... To suppose that the same international customs, and the same rules of international morality, can obtain between one civilized nation and another, and between civilized nations and barbarians, is a grave error...’ (Mill, 1867, pp.166-167) The justification of humanitarian intervention is largely based on principles of both political and moral philosophy, and the liberal argument in particular, on the premise that the main purpose of governments and states ought to fulfil is the protection of human rights. It is argued that states who violate these rights only undermine their own legitimacy and therefore should not be protected by international law. (Tesón, 2001) In this case, liberals find state sovereignty to be of instrumental value as opposed to intrinsic. As far as they are concerned the state is only sovereign in order to fulfil a purpose which is ensuring the protection and wellbeing of the people. A key point in the liberal tradition is that human beings are obligated...

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