Humanitarian intervention deals with two academic fields: political philosophy and international law. The question of intervention depends on the morality and on the legality of the intervention. Is humanitarian intervention a moral duty for different states? Is humanitarian intervention a right for the different states? These two questions will be the core of our argument in this essay.
[...] Theorists who deny to states any right to intervene in humanitarian crisis expose various arguments: state sovereignty, the fact that states are driven by their own interests, possible abuses of humanitarian intervention to serve intervening states' interests, difference of responses to human rights violation. Solidarists try to counter this restrictionist view of humanitarian intervention by justifying it legally and morally. Concerning the UN, two documents are particularly interesting regarding to the issue of humanitarian intervention: the article 2.4 of the United Nations Charter and the Drafts Articles on Responsibility on States of the International Law Commission. Since the end of the cold war, state sovereignty is a declining principle. [...]
[...] Theoretical objections to humanitarian interventions In a first point, the debate over the reasons for states to intervene in humanitarian crises shall be considered. Some theorists of humanitarian intervention argue that, in case of gross human rights violations, states are only motivated to intervene by sympathy. Bikhu Parekh presents humanitarian intervention as act wholly or primarily guided by the sentiment of humanity, compassion or fellow-feeling and [ ] in that sense disinterested'. Nevertheless, one of the key assumptions of realism is that states are primarily driven by national interests. [...]
[...] On the other hand, the Holocaust had a gigantic impact on the post-WW2 world politics. Since 1945, the society of states outlawed genocide, torture and any other massive human rights abuses. The paradox emerges from the collision of those two realities. The ‘human rights culture' which has arisen from the post-Holocaust awakening may conflict with the principle of sovereignty. If states have the ‘responsibility to protect' their citizens, what to do when a state behaves like a gangster towards its own people? Under what circumstances states should intervene in humanitarian crises? [...]
[...] If another exception is done for humanitarian intervention, it will also lead to abuses. The pretext of humanitarianism will be used by great powers to pursue national self-interest. By using such fallacious pretexts (abuses), might will be right. The concept of humanitarian intervention encounters another criticism which focuses on both legal and moral right for states to intervene. Those who are called statists think that ‘citizens are the exclusive responsibility of their state, and their state is entirely their own business'. [...]
[...] However, two conditions are necessary to invoke this right: intervention must be absolutely necessary; intervention must imply a greater good in comparison to the state of facts of the moment. wrongfulness of an act of a State not in conformity with an international obligation of that State is precluded if the author of the act in question has no other reasonable way, in a situation of distress, of saving the author's life or the lives of other persons entrusted to the author's care.' To conclude on this part, we can say that states do not have a unilateral right of humanitarian intervention. [...]
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