The History of Humanitarian Intervention

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The history of Humanitarian intervention is a controversial one. In March 1999 the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) justified the use of force against Yugoslavia, a country that at this time was having a number of atrocities being committed within it. This act welcomed by those that thought that the veto of the permanent five in the United Nations Security Council sometimes block necessary cases of intervention. According to Sarooshi (2001) they believe morality should trump legality where governments commit mass atrocities. Some claim NATO’s action is legal because it represents the “crystallization in state practice of a new customary law of humanitarian intervention.” (Sarooshi, 2001:12) According to a number of authors namely Bellamy, Chandler as this essay shall soon explore, was the downfall of any form of containing ‘humanitarian intervention’. The principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005 and in 2006 the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reaffirmed the R2P principle.
Lyon (2009) questions the validity of the R2P discourse. He describes it as a normative advancement of the idea of humanitarian intervention. Whilst Bellamy (2008) argues that R2P can be seen as a ‘working language’ in the international community where cases of mass atrocities are being committed.
A question that continues to arise is that of sovereignty. What gives a sovereign state the right to intervene in another
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