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Unfortunately some aid organizations do not bother to negotiate access to regions where terrorist groups have a strong presence. Consequently those who need this aid are the ones forced to pay the consequences. War-torn regions such as Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan have had villages attacked in response to their receiving aid from organizations because it was aimed at attaining allegiance. Aid in this regard can also then be seen as a tool or weapon of war. A prime example of this can be demonstrated through the Rwandan genocide of Paradoxes of Humanitarianism in Africa.


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This is not new however — aid was similarly distributed during the cold war. However there are other organizations such as Al qaida that in used aid to win the hearts and minds of the Somalian population. It can be seen then that the best interests of the population receiving aid is not always the reason for distribution of aid from organizations but rather to influence the vulnerable. Aid should be given only on the basis of our shared humanity. Genocide is the deliberate mass murder of individuals with a shared identity.

The Rwandan Genocide resulted in the death of thousands of Rwandans. Media coverage was prevalent during the gruesome event. From April 6 to July 16, , a mere days, an estimated , to 1,, Tutsis were believed to have been slaughtered.

At height of the slaughtering, it was projected that six people were being slaughtered every minute. As a result of the genocide, Western interest in Africa was heightened, as well as humanitarian organizations. Unfortunately, while genocide continues to shock nations, many nations have accepted that this a characteristic of Africa. Genocide is often depicted as a common occurrence within the continent.

The Evolving Legitimacy of Humanitarian Interventions - Sur - International Journal on Human Rights

It continues to be one of the leading causes of death amongst countries in Africa. The number of people being diagnosed with AIDS and dying from the illness continues to increase. In , And in sub-Saharan Africa alone, 1. A number of countries began to implemented large-scale prevention programs in order to contain the outbreaks.

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Despite having the largest prevention program in the world, South Africa is estimated to have had , new infections in Senegal however, has been successful in maintaining low HIV statistics among the population. The success of the country is attributed to early initiative and political factors. According to the USDA , food insecurity is separated into two categories: low food security and very low food security.

Low food security is defined as reports of reduced food quality and variety, where as very low food security reflects reduced food intake. Approximately million people around the world are reported to live in food insecurity. Over 40 million children are malnourished while 50 million suffer from vitamin deficiency. Individuals experience food insecurity may be dependent of food aid for survival, which may be provided through foreign aid. Ethnocentrism is use of one's societal values to judge the values of another society. Ethnocentrism can also result in one using their as a blueprint for other cultures—ultimately causing one to pass judgment on the other culture.

In this chapter, based partly on my experience working on the ground in this conflict, I argue that other forms of intervention, which could just as reasonably be described as "humanitarian", were neglected by the principal international actors engaged with the conflict. I compare this state of affairs with subsequent approaches to intervention in Africa and elsewhere and conclude by suggesting that the lessons from "Biafra" could be used to inform a more enlightened approach to "humanitarian intervention" in present-day crises.

Download kB Preview. In Basic Rights Princeton, , Henry Shue famously argues that a basic right such as the right not be killed arbitrarily entails not only duties not to kill, but duties to protect or enforce the right: a negative right such as the right not to be killed arbitrarily requires positive action by others as do positive rights to subsistence. Furthermore, Shue argues later, if and when the primary holder of the correlative duties that is, the state fails to meet its obligations, then the duty to protect and defend human rights defaults to others.

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Thus, humanitarian interventions are justifiable as discharging a default duty to protect and defend basic human rights not being respected by the target state. Another, related argument to support a duty to intervene derives from theories of global distributive justice. Arguments appealing to rights and correlativity relations are not uncontroversial. For those who distinguish positive and negative rights, for example, the correlative duty for a right to life is simply and only not to kill. Thus, so long as a state or international organization is not the perpetrator of atrocities against its own people, it would seem that correlative obligations have been satisfied without coming close to establishing military intervention as a duty.

An issue in the background is what one takes to be the model for understanding human rights and the extent to which duties of respect and protection correlate with those rights and for whom or what. Just war theory has been the most prominent framework for philosophic discussion of the morality of humanitarian interventions.

Other relevant approaches include attention to international law and its ethical implications and an issue central to political philosophy, the concept of state sovereignty. Political realisms deny the applicability of moral norms to state behavior, including uses of military force. Pacifism typically denies the premise of just war theory, namely, that some wars are morally justifiable, even if waged for humanitarian purposes. Much discussion of humanitarian interventions involves legal issues under the Charter of the United Nations, the central and paramount text of the international law of force.

Philosophers of law have accorded relatively little attention to international law. Attending to the international law of force and human rights involves issues of interpretation, sources of law, ethics of acting illegally and reform, as well as the extent to which states or people ought to be at the center of the system. At the center of the international law about interventions are explicit provisions of the United Nations Charter and human rights treaties.

And since humanitarian emergencies typically do not threaten international peace and security, the text permits authorizing few, if any, interventions. Furthermore, the nine core human rights treaties and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights explicitly require only that each state respect, protect, and enforce the provisions listed, such as rights to life.

Human rights, for example, may be transnational norms, but international law makes the respect, defense, and protection of those rights almost exclusively a domestic matter for each state. So, to promote international peace and security, inter-state uses of armed force are severely limited by law, even when domestic violence against people may be widespread and systematic. There are ethical dimensions to the system of international law as it relates to interventions.

The United Nations Charter has been accepted by consent of all and each members of the United Nations — virtually every state on the planet. State consent is among the established procedures for creating international law and consent creates compliance obligations for states. So, for positivists, it follows that states and international organizations ought to obey the law and therefore ought not conduct unauthorized humanitarian interventions. Legal positivists maintain that there are legal and moral obligations not to interfere militarily with the domestic affairs of states, even in the face of a humanitarian emergency.

Challenges to this line of reasoning take several forms. First, some legal scholars quite carefully parse the specific Charter texts in ways consistent with humanitarian interventions being permitted. For example, Article 2 4 does not prohibit all uses of military force, but only those aimed at the independence or territory of another state. Legally permissible, then, would be any humanitarian interventions having neither those aims nor those effects.

Disagreements about interpretation raise philosophic issues about how best or properly to interpret legal texts. Some dispute such textual parsing as ignoring the original intent of the language. Others deny that original intent is probative, granting a more significant role for contemporary attitudes, beliefs, and norms about interventions, or appealing to a political morality implicit in legal texts and their interpretive history.

Some argue that long-standing state practice has established a customary right of humanitarian intervention; others deny this claim of fact about state practice, or assert that the written law of the Charter supersedes any putative customary rule. In effect, there is much controversy about what H. One final issue deals with the ethics of acting illegally. At the heart of creating customary law about interventions is establishing a state practice of intervening. This requires that states begin creating a custom by acting in ways neither required nor permitted by international law at the time: legality is created over time only by a process initially requiring illegal actions.

Given sufficient moral grounds for reforms to permit humanitarian interventions, then, a moral argument can be made for illegally intervening now to address emergencies and thereby contribute to reforming international law. Unauthorized humanitarian interventions then can be seen as a kind of international civil disobedience by states or international organizations.

State sovereignty is a major issue for humanitarian interventions, whether as source of opposition or of significant challenge for proponents. For centuries the general idea has been that a sovereign state has supreme authority over its territory, its people, and its relation with other states; and so, other states or organizations are not to interfere with exercises of that supreme authority.

Matters of sovereignty have been central to political philosophy, international relations, international law, and the institutions and practices constitutive of the modern world order. The literature is vast, the issues complex, the notion of sovereignty contentious and controversial to the core. Subsequent political philosophers, like Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau, and the utilitarians, have focused much on the source, locus, and limits of sovereignty within a state, while merely acknowledging an accompanying externally directed authority to make war, peace, alliances, and treaties with other powers.

Simply stated, then, state sovereignty involves supremacy and independence of authority with respect to internal matters and with respect to relationships with other powers, including the absence of non-consensual interference by other sovereign states or other organizations. Whether authority is seen as effective control or as a right, the merits of sovereignty as independence are mixed.

A plurality of independent sovereign states accords appropriate diversities among peoples of the earth; a system of non-interference promotes an international stability and order. The sovereignty of states is sometimes portrayed as akin to that of individual persons, coupling autonomy rights over their own life, independence from external control, and mutual, reciprocal duties not to interfere with others. Also, state sovereignty is long embedded in international law. In contrast, it is argued, taken too far, sovereignty precludes any international law at all, since supremacy and independence is reduced by any transnational legal rules limiting war or breach of treaties, for example.

Similar reasoning leads to concerns that sovereignty precludes appeals to transnational moral norms, such as, for example, natural law duties or universal human rights. For example, current international law prohibiting torture, genocide, or disregard for basic human rights effectively redefines the scope of authority accorded states: such acts are not expressions of sovereignty, but abuses.

An often neglected line of argument shows that states themselves express their sovereignty sometimes in order to limit the scope of their own sovereignty — what S. On almost any account, state sovereignty includes the right to enter into treaties, just as personal autonomy rights can be expressed by making promises or signing contracts that obligate, bind, and limit future actions.

If states have freely chosen to sign human rights treaties, for example, or the Genocide Convention, or the United Nations Charter, then, through that expression of their sovereign authority, they have limited what is within their authority later, for example, committing genocide, waging aggressive war, disregarding the outcomes of established procedures or processes. Then states involved in humanitarian emergencies are abusing, not exercising the sovereign authority they chose to limit.

Discussions of humanitarian intervention have led to alternative ways of thinking about state sovereignty. One line of thinking makes sovereignty of a state conditional and contingent Holder, A state has genuine sovereignty only if it meets minimal moral requirements, such as effective control in maintaining order and security, or avoiding egregious mistreatment of its people, or, less minimally, reflects the political will of the people themselves.

Robert Keohane has proposed that sovereignty rights need to be seen as separable, so that a state, based on certain criteria, retains some kinds of authority while losing others. So, exclusion of external control over territory may be an authority lost by a state, but that same state may continue to have some limited domestic authority at the same time. They are an extension of a greater emphasis on human rights as transnational moral norms. Alternative, normative understandings of the modern state show that, under certain conditions, humanitarian interventions are not violations of sovereignty at all.

Some critics, such as Noam Chomsky The New Military Humanism , , see selectivity as undermining any and all moral merit to military interventions to protect basic human rights. If humanitarianism is the issue, why intervene here and not there? How does it come about that armed interventions take place in one crisis but not in another? It would appear that like cases are not being treated alike. The implicit appeal is to the universalizability of genuine moral judgments. But a lack of clarity or precision often cloaks the objection.

Sufficient sufferings by people — threshold conditions — are only one feature of similarity between cases, and appeals to similarities of sufferings do not alone make the compared cases morally justified. There are other necessary conditions to justifying an intervention for example, likelihood of success and sometimes those are not met in the cases being compared. The selectivity problem arises only when one or more situations satisfy all the requirements for justifying uses of armed force. Second, interventions being morally justified is not inconsistent with only some interventions taking place.

If being morally justified means there is a right to intervene, then, as with most rights, the right-holder can choose whether to exercise the right or not, whether to actually intervene or not. If being morally justified means there is an imperfect duty to rescue, then, as an imperfect duty, the obligated parties can choose when and where to discharge the duty.

Third, understood as ethical inconsistency, selectivity seems hardly sufficient reason to reject all humanitarian interventions as unjustified. The moral flaw of inconsistency does not require doing nothing: because one cannot or does not do everything morally justified on similar grounds, it does not follow one ought not ever do what is morally right. A second version of the objection points to the substantive criteria by which interventions are selectively conducted, and there is something right about this form of the objection.

For example, in the s military force was employed in the Balkans for humanitarian purposes, but not in Rwanda. Assuming both situations warranted intervention, the issue, then, is not only ethical inconsistency, but suspicions about the ethical acceptability of the substantive criteria for selective action. So, for example, if there is moral right to intervene, is it not morally problematic if the right-holder chooses whether to intervene based on the race or region of those people suffering?

If there is even an imperfect duty to intervene, is it not morally problematic to select those to be rescued based on whether they are European or Christian, or based on the extent and kind of media coverage provided? This version of the selectivity problem has merit in calling for diligence, discipline, and care in choosing how to exercise rights or discharge duties. It is not clear this version of the selectivity problem is sufficient reason to oppose all humanitarian interventions, unless the reliance on morally suspect criteria is pervasive or even unavoidable.

And that leads to a third and the strongest version of the selectivity problem for humanitarian interventions. The claim is that states selectively intervene based on national self-interest, not based on humanitarian need or warrant. Though seldom distinguished by critics of interventions, a weaker version of the objection is that, among morally justified interventions, states choose to intervene in those situations that serve their national interest. A kind of national prudence supervenes on the array of morally permissible interventions.

It is not obvious that this is problematic for states any more than it is for individuals who invoke principles of prudence to choose among morally permissible possibilities. And it does not seem sufficient to reject humanitarian interventions as unjustified, even if, in fact, all states do combine moral and prudential consideration in selecting sites for intervention.

A stronger version of the objection, however, reflects concerns about imperialistic ambitions or hegemonies of intervening parties. The selectivity objection, then, is not so much concerned about moral flaws or inconsistency, but relies on the inescapable role of national self interest in deciding whether to intervene. Seen this way, the objection reflects political realism as an alternative framework for considering the international arena, including states and humanitarian interventions.

Strong forms of descriptive realism maintain that all state action is in pursuit of national self-interest, typically understood in terms of national security, military or economic power, or material well-being. Such a strong form of descriptive political realism, however, is a dubious empirical generalization about international relations and about the scope and stability of what constitutes national interest. Prescriptive political realism maintains that states should pursue their own national interests in the international arena: it advocates a norm of prudence, of pursuing self-interest, but not of morality, as properly governing state behavior.

An example might be an intervention conducted in a bordering state, due to the national security interests threatened by having an inept or failed state as neighbor for example, refugees and interruptions of oil or water supplies. There exist transnational moral norms for example, of human rights, justice that bind states and organizations in their relations to one another, including perhaps an international analogue to the Lockean executive right to punish and enforce those transnational norms, even by use of armed force.

Political realisms and defenders of morally justified wars or humanitarian interventions reflect fundamentally different conceptions of world order. For example, the selectivity issue IV. Examples of abuse abound, it is argued, from the days of the Cold War to later incursions in the Middle East and Afghanistan Gregory. The moral universalism of human rights and other concepts employed as intervention threshold conditions II. The discourse of just war thinking looks at uses of military force from the perspective of those deciding whether to wage war, not from the perspective of those against whom the war is waged or those who are suffering.

Intervening parties, it is argued, are former colonial powers with lingering imperialist ambitions and those to be protected are former subjects of these imperialist ambitions. Given the asymmetries of power in the world, colonialism and imperialism continue in the way in which dominating powers structure and influence the lives of those around the world, so much so that there are nearly insurmountable obstacles for the subaltern speaking and being heard Spivak. Post colonialist approaches call for skepticism, at least, about moral justifications for war or armed humanitarian interventions; and they call for involving diverse, alternative voices and thinking in response to human suffering.

One challenge is to explore the ethics of care as an alternative approach for example, Held. The suggestions often include a call for more attention to non-military, preventive action to address human rights issues, including traditional gender roles and hierarchies. In effect, just war pacifism opposes all wars by applying rigorously and strictly all the standard requirements for a war to be justified.

Arguments for just war pacifism typically focus on a few jus bellum requirements: proportionality considerations, in bello discrimination as providing immunity for non-combatants, and the idea of war only as a last resort. Calling attention to the undeniable destructive consequences of war and use of military force, just war pacifists deny that the benefits do or can sufficiently outweigh the costs.

Proportionality requirements are interpreted and applied in ways that they are not or can never be satisfied, even by uses of military force for humanitarian purposes. The argument depends on complex causal estimations and calculations about which certainty or reliability is dubious.

Just war pacifism sees macro-proportionality as capable of much more justificatory work than it is accorded by many just war theorists. The argument is more effectively employed with respect to micro-proportionality and the in bello discrimination principle. Just war pacifism rightly attends to this feature.


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Morally acceptable standards are not and cannot be satisfied; thus, even if all ad bellum standards are met, no war is a just war. The difficulty with the argument is establishing precise levels of morally acceptable death and destruction for non-combatants, whether seen as unintended consequences or not. Finally, just war pacifism demands that war be a last resort and argues that always there are or can be non-military alternatives. These arguments typically turn on how to construe the last resort requirement.

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As mentioned above, a literal reading of the idea excludes most wars or interventions as unjust; and an expansive, counterfactual construal of the requirement makes no wars just, but tends to conflate advocacy for better preventive infrastructure and strategies with justifying responses to developing events. Just war pacifism, like any absolute, unconditional opposition to war and use of military force, must somehow negotiate a troubling moral path whereby innocent persons will not be rescued because of a superior principle prohibiting the use of armed force, even for humanitarian purposes to stop widespread, systematic human suffering.

Table of Contents What is a Humanitarian Intervention? What is a Humanitarian Intervention? Consider this paradigm characterization of humanitarian interventions as: the threat or use of force across state borders by a state or group of states aimed at preventing or ending widespread and grave violations of the fundamental human rights of individuals others than its own citizens, without the permission of the state within whose territory force is applied.

The Threshold Condition for Intervention Even proponents of humanitarian intervention advocate very limited circumstances where such uses of military force are justifiable. For example, the ICISS Report, The Responsibility to Protect , describes the security of people as their physical safety, their economic and social well-being, respect for their dignity and worth as human beings, and the protection of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Justifying Intervention: Just War Theory The satisfaction of specified threshold conditions and state culpability requirements are only necessary conditions for morally justifying humanitarian interventions. Justifying the Recourse to War jus ad bellum and Interventions The jus ad bellum framework of just war theory identifies about a half dozen considerations relevant to justifying the recourse to war.

Just Cause In the just war tradition, just cause has long been among the basic considerations in determining whether the recourse to military force is justified. Right Intention and Right Authority Intention, or purpose, and authority have both been basic considerations in determining whether the recourse to military force is justified. Likelihood of Success, Last Resort, and Proportionality Three additional jus ad bellum requirements also must be satisfied for a war to be justified.

Justifying Conduct in War jus in bellum and Justice after War jus post bellum The general idea of proportionality is one that links the traditional division of just war theory into jus ad bellum and jus in bello principles.