From State Sovereignty to Human Security (via Institutions)

By Pratap Bhanu Mehta
in Humanitarian Intervention
Edited by Terry Nardin and Melissa Williams
NYU Press
2005

Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo. All are examples where humanitarian intervention has been called into action. This timely and important new volume explores the legal and moral issues which emerge when a state uses military force in order to protect innocent people from violence perpetrated or permitted by the government of that state. Humanitarian intervention can be seen as a moral duty to protect but it is also subject to misuse as a front for imperialism without regard to international law.

In Humanitarian Intervention, the contributors explore the many questions surrounding the issue. Is humanitarian intervention permitted by international law? If not, is it nevertheless morally permissible or morally required? Realistically, might not the main consequence of the humanitarian intervention principle be that powerful states will coerce weak ones for purposes of their own? The current debate is updated by two innovations in particular, the first being the shift of emphasis from the permissibility of intervening to the responsibility to intervene, and the second an emerging conviction that the response to humanitarian crises needs to be collective, coordinated, and preemptive. The authors shed light on the timely debate of when and how to intervene and when, if ever, not to.