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Humanitarian Intervention?


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The Responsibility to Protect (November 13, 2003)

This article considers the ethical dimension of humanitarian action and the "responsibility to protect." The author argues that sovereign states have primary responsibility to protect their citizens. The international community should only take humanitarian action when moral justification, political expediency and international legal sanction converge. (World Council of Churches)

Imperial Pretexts: The Real Reasons behind US Intervention in Colombia (October 14, 2003)

To sway US public opinion in favor of US sponsored counterinsurgency in Colombia, the Colombian government worked together with US Public Relations firm Sawyer/Miller Group to change US public perceptions of the Colombian government as a corrupt regime and brutal abuser of human rights. (ZNet)

Iraq Has Wrecked our Case for Humanitarian Wars (August 12, 2003)

Iraq war divided "humanitarian interventionists," argues former British Foreign Office special adviser David Clark. ICISS criteria defining the limits of intervention did not impede those who claimed that their "responsibility to protect" justified the war. Many now fear that "humanitarianism" serves as an excuse to pursue wars for other goals. (Guardian)

Against Liberal Intervention (July 28, 2003)

John MacArthur argues that liberal humanitarian interventions kill as many innocent people as do acts of naked aggression devoid of good intentions. In fact, intervention often leads to more death and misery than non-intervention. (In These Times)

Intervene with Caution (July 28, 2003)

Ian Williams argues that the benefits of humanitarian intervention almost always outweigh the potential risks. However, the international community should only intervene when there is "serious and irreparable harm occurring to human beings." (In These Times)

Humanitarian Intervention: A Forum (July 14, 2003)

Even if Iraq has no WMDs, could the US justify its invasion by claiming a "moral obligation to intervene" to protect civilians against a cruel regime? The Nation offers the critical perspective of twelve eminent authors on the emerging doctrine of humanitarian intervention.

Blair Seeks New Powers to Attack Rogue States (July 13, 2003)

Downing Street is circulating a document to Western heads of government seeking authority to attack sovereign states if they "inflict suffering on their own people." The document is meant to justify the war on Iraq, but will also set a far-reaching precedent for future invasions in the name of "humanitarian intervention." (Independent)

Process Needed So Countries Know When to Intervene to Protect Human Rights (July 13, 2003)

With the backing of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Crétien wants to build a coalition of countries that are ready to employ "humanitarian intervention" when a state commits serious human rights violations. At a high-level meeting in the UK, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder expressed opposition to the plan, which has previously encountered hostility at the UN. (CBC News (Canada))



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Regarding "The Responsibility to Protect" (February 15, 2002)

At a seminar on "The Responsibility to Protect," Médecins Sans Frontií¨res UN Delegate Catherine Dumait-Harper draws attention to the increasingly "blurring lines" between humanitarian and military intervention. While Dumait-Harper favors setting objective criteria for intervention, she insists that in practice national interets prevail over the protection of populations. These criteria, she says, can only protect civilians if the international community is willing to carry out "human protection interventions."

Same Aims, Different Means? Why Promoting "Coherence" in Military and Humanitarian Goals in a Disservice to Civilians in Need (2002)

Where do we draw the line between humanitarian assistance and military intervention? Unfortunately, the line has been blurred for the past decade as humanitarian agencies followed loyally behind Western military leaders. Does the claimed common goal – for the "good" of the world – remain true at all? (Doctors Without Borders)



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Humanitarian Intervention: A Review of Literature (2001)

This paper reviews the legal and political argument for and against humanitarian intervention. Discussing a possible set of conditions to justify humanitarian intervention, the author concludes that it is difficult to meet all these criteria. (Project Ploughshares)

The Truths They Never Tell Us (November 26, 2001)

Behind the jargon about failed states and humanitarian interventions lie thousands of dead. (New Statesman)

The Responsibility to Protect (November 1, 2001)

In response to the controversy of the "right of humanitarian intervention," the authors suggest that UN Security Council should play a greater role in international law enforcement. The authors also emphasized the importance of "precautionary principle" in justifying interventions. (Foreign Affairs)

A War of Lies (October 16, 2001)

Rahul Mahajan and Robert Jensen argue that there is nothing humanitarian about the undeclared war on Afghanistan. It can rather be seen as a "culmination of a decade of US aggression with a humanitarian faí§ade". ( Nowar Collective )

MSF Rejects Link of Humanitarian and Military Actions (October 8, 2001)

The "humanitarian" intervention, explains Dr Jean-Hervé Bradol of Médecins sans Frontií¨res, is a US propaganda tool and of little value to Afghan refugees.

Human Rights - A Priority of Britain's Foreign Policy (March 28, 2001)

In a public speech on human rights, Britain's Foreign Secretary Robin Cook examines when is it right for the international community to intervene to uphold human rights and who decides that it is right? Concluding that the UN needs new rules on when it can intervene within a state rather than between states, Cook lays out a number of principles for humanitarian interventions.



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Humanitarian Intervention: A Forum (May 8, 2000)

Four authors debate the circumstances under which humanitarian intervention is justified, and whether the reasons behind intervention are always in fact humanitarian. (The Nation)



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UN and World Security in the Next Millennium (September 27, 1999)
This Nigeria Post Express (Lagos) editorial laments that state sovereignty, a fundamental assumption of the United Nations, has increasingly fallen victim to US dominance and the doctrine of humanitarian intervention. The author believes that the UN's failure to counter these forces will cause the world body to "lose effectiveness as an instrument for world peace and security."

Russia Says Only UN Can Authorise Intervention (September 22, 1999)
In a speech to the General Assembly, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov advised that the Security Council bear sole responsibility in justifying military intervention for humanitarian concerns. Ivanov cautioned against unlawful methods—in reference to NATO's bombing in Kosovo—and called on the UN to "defend the principles of sovereignty." (Reuters)

Sovereignty and World Order (September 20, 1999)
Noam Chomsky argues that US national interests almost always determine the underlying reasons for its involvement in so-called humanitarian interventions. US willingness to intervene in Yugoslavia, but its hesitance to intervene or even condemn severe human rights violations in East Timor and Turkey exemplifies these underlying reasons. (ZNet)

The Blair Doctrine (April 22, 1999)

In this speech defending NATO's Kosovo war, British Prime Minister Tony Blair outlines a set of five major conditons that, if met, would justify foreign military intervention. These conditions include the certainty of the case for war, the exhaustion of all diplomatic options, and whether the crisis involves British national interests. Are these, in fact, objective criteria? And are US and British foreign policy actually guided by a "subtle blend of mutual self interest and moral purpose," as Blair claims? (Public Broadcasting Service

Is the UN an Alternative to "Humanitarian Imperialism?"(1999)
The UN's "balance sheet" in previous humanitarian interventions shows a large debit. The Iraqi, Bosnian, Somali, and Rwandan conflicts illustrate how US uses the UN to shield itself from accusations of human rights violations as it advances its own national interests. (International Socialism Journal)



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