Humanitarian Intervention

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Humanitarian Intervention Hypothesis: That despite the incidents where humanitarian interventions have proved seemingly unsuccessful, they are, nonetheless, a vital tool in alleviating the human suffering that so plagues contemporary society. The post-Cold war world is one that has been riddled with conflict, suffering and war. In the face of such times, the issue of humanitarian intervention and about who, when and how it should be employed, has become hotly debated. While some critics declare this kind of intervention to be a violation of national sovereignty, others believe that relief efforts aimed at ending human suffering are perfectly justifiable. (7) The key question here is, if internal wars cause unacceptable human suffering, should the international community develop collective mechanisms for preventing or alleviating it?(5) This essay will attempt to address such a question, by outlining the arguments for and against humanitarian intervention in the context of the Bosnian crisis of 1991. In light of the evidence, it will be proven that although humanitarian intervention does have flaws, it is a vital tool in alleviating the human suffering that so plagues contemporary society. The complex issue of humanitarian intervention is widely argued and inherently controversial. Humanitarian intervention involves the coercive action of states intervening in areas for the sole purpose of preventing or halting the killing or suffering of the people there. (1, 9, 5) It is an issue argued fervently amongst restrictionists and counter-restrictionists, who debate over whether humanitarian intervention is a breach of international law or a moral requirement. (10) Restrictionists argue that Articles 2 (7) and 2 (4) of the United Nations (UN) Charter render forcible humanitarian intervention illegal. The only legitimate exception to this, they claim, is the right to self defence, as enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter. (1-472) This position is contested by counter-restrictionists, who insist that any and all nations have the right, and the responsibility, to prevent humanitarian disasters. (8-5) Despite the declaration of a ‘new world order’, the post-Cold war world has not been a more peaceful one: regional and ethnic conflicts have, in fact, proliferated. Between 1989 and 1993, for example, thirteen new peacekeeping operations were launched by th... ... middle of paper ... ...gue that the Bosnian crisis is a prime example of why humanitarian intervention is a flawed and unsuccessful option. Critics argue that, even though the UN prevented hundreds of thousands of Bosnians in besieged towns from starvation, it did little or nothing to stop Bosnian Serbs from shelling these areas and ethnically cleansing them of Muslims. Furthermore, others claim that NATO’S degrading of Serb military capability from the air did nothing to save those civilians trapped in UN-created safe areas. In 1995 at least 7,414 Muslim men were rounded up in a Screbrenica enclave and systematically killed in the worst war crime of the whole war. However, while such examples may indicate that humanitarian interventions are not a legitimate option, there are also positive aspects that in some cases, compensate for, and override these negative flaws. However, such a definition is open to much controversy. Who can authorise such interventions? What is classified as human suffering, and furthermore, what type of action is considered a legitimate response? (5- pg155) These are the questions that underpin the issue of humanitarian intervention, questions that remained unanswered today.

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