The clash between State sovereignty and the protection of human rights abuses through humanitarian intervention still remains prominent in international relations today. The international community faces a dilemma of allowing violations of human rights in defence of maintaining State sovereignty and intervention (Ludlow 1999). Humanitarian intervention can be understood as the use of coercive action or military force in another state without their permission aimed at “preventing or ending widespread and grave violation of the fundamental human rights of individuals other than their own citizens” (Kantareva 2011, p. 1). As Helen Burkhalter, human rights activist, asks, "Do the lifesaving benefits of the contemplated military action outweigh potential cost in human lives?” (Mertus 2001, p.8). This essay will argue that it can, and that humanitarian intervention is capable of preventing human rights abuse in certain circumstances. It will explore the principle of non-intervention and how inaction results in humanitarian catastrophes as exemplified by the case of Rwanda. It will also explore the concept of human rights and look at which types of human rights can justify humanitarian intervention. It will also look at how humanitarian intervention has attempted to be legitimised in international law by the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine, and how this can be used to justify intervention as exemplified by Libya. Ultimately this essay will argue that humanitarian intervention should be used as a last resort and must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Non-intervention is the principle commonly used to argue against the use of humanitarian interven...
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...ce and promotion of development and effective governance (Lu 2006)
In conclusion, humanitarian intervention can be used to potentially save lives in certain circumstances, as successfully shown through the intervention in Libya (Ludlow, 1999). With the right to life is considered the most universal human right, this makes humanitarian intervention a solution to protect human rights in ideal circumstances as a last resort. Under circumstance where basic human rights are violated or neglected, it is permissible as a way to protect human rights. As shown in Rwanda, non-intervention has significant costs to human life. Humanitarian intervention then acts as a decisive tool to stop human rights abuses, particularly if evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The decision-making criteria of R2P also makes humanitarian intervention more palatable in regards to international law.
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