International Relations Relating to Humanitarian Intervention Essay

International Relations Relating to Humanitarian Intervention Essay

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In the following essay I will discuss aspects of international relations relating to humanitarian intervention and how they affect a nation’s responsibilities in the international arena. I will be drawing parallels to historical examples of intervention and to recent world events. I will inspect the classical realist notion of non-intervention and sovereignty and another newer line of thought, more adapted to the modern system. What I hope to bring forth in this paper is a clearer understanding of the situation and the responsibilities of the actors in current international relations in regard to humanitarian rights and intervention.

Today the world stands more connected than ever before in human history. Nations form economic empires. Lines of trade run intertwined. Influence and interests span the globe. Power is global. With this brave new world come new responsibilities. No longer, can state sovereignty, force rigid impenetrable boundaries between states and command sole responsibility for their citizens.

But still national sovereignty in classical international law is untouchable. With the philosophical roots of international relations established with the treaty of Westphalia 1648 (Plant 1995: 190) According to it all sovereign rulers have absolute authority within their nations and no state has the right to intervene in the domestic matters of other sovereign states.

This idea has been the very building block of modern international relations since 1945 and the establishment of the UN. The UN Charter clearly prohibits the use of force in international relations to threaten the “territorial integrity or political independence of any state “(United Nations 1945: Chapter 1 Article 2.4). This idea is so concrete in i...


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...tract=462523 [Accessed 15 March 2011]
Plant, R. 1995 ‘Rights Rules and world Order’ pp 190-218 in Desai, M and Redfern, P. (eds.) Global Governance: Ethics and Economics of the World Order, London: Continuum Publishing
Slater, J and Nardin, T. 1986 ‘Nonintervention and Human Rights.’ The Journal of Politics, 48(1):86-96
Stacy, H. 2007 ‘Humanitarian Intervention and Relational Sovereignty,’ pp 89-104 in Lee, Steven P. (Ed.) Intervention, Terrorism, and Torture: Contemporary Challenges to Just War Theory, New York: Springer
Thomas, C . 1994 ‘Human Rights and Intervention: A Case for Caution.’ Irish Studies in International Affairs, 5:15-28.
United Nations, 2011. Charter of the United Nations 194,. [Online]
Available at;
[Accessed 09 March 2011].
Walzer, M. 1977 Just and Unjust Wars, New York: Basic Books

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