Humanitarian Intervention is a problematic instrument of foreign policy; its basis, formulation, and implementation are widely discussed, yet no consensus seems to have emerged so far. All major multilateral humanitarian interventions of this decade – Somalia, Bosnia, and, with qualifications, Rwanda – have proven more than problematic; only the operation to provide a safe zone for the persecuted Iraqi Kurds in the wake of the Second Gulf War has, under very particular conditions, been a relative success.[1] Cautionary comments on humanitarian intervention and pessimism concerning the political feasibility of long overdue reform of the UN system seem appropriate in this context.

In this article I will argue that many of the problems typically associated with this new type of humanitarian assistance are in fact present in all kinds of humanitarian action.[2] I will particularly dispute the claim that a politicisation of the humanitarian relief system lies at the root of the present problems. This claim has relevance only insofar as its bearing on all sorts of humanitarian action is recognised; there are no apolitical decisions in the field of humanitarian assistance. A similar point is made concerning the nature of practical problems supposedly raised by this “new humanitarianism”: practical problems in this field are merely indications of unresolved moral dilemmas haunting all forms of emergency relief.

Thus, instead of stating the politicisation of humanitarian assistance, one should rather examine its “legalisation”. One consequence of the end of the cold war has been a stronger engagement of regional organisations and the UN in places where the presence of superpowers would previously have prevented all but the most “apolitical” forms of humanitarian assistance. In other words, relief operations have been supplemented or taken over by multilateral action. This has inevitably led to a stronger awareness for the rules and norms of international law, since international law provides the only available body of regulation concerning multilateral action. It is here that the discussion concerning the broader issues of humanitarian intervention has made most progress. This means specifically that interpretations of humanitarian emergencies such as refugee flows (typically generated by war or systematic human rights abuses) as threats to international peace and security and thus grounds for action under chapter vii of the UN charter enjoy wider acceptance than under cold war conditions.[3]

Does international law matter when it comes to humanitarian intervention? The reasons for intervening are typically grounded in national interest rather than genuine altruism, which is not a problem in itself . What has to be prevented by all means, however, is the hijacking of UN operations by regional security organisations or individual governments. The UN has been on a dangerous course over the past years, and particularly the Russian (“CIS”) “peacekeeping” operation in Georgia has set a disturbing precedent. Governments feel more at ease when their internationally relevant actions are sanctioned by the UN; but this should not lead one to assume increased adherence to the norms of international law. If NATO troops implementing the Dayton accords in Bosnia are wilfully ignoring the very provisions that their political superiors have written into the accord, what does this mean for the “international community”?[4]

With this caveat in mind, I will first give a short overview of the arguments that there exists a legal basis for humanitarian intervention. I will then go on to discuss the problem of “politicisation” and show how political considerations are relevant to all humanitarian action. My final points will concern the moral ambiguities underlying “practical” problems of implementation; they will make clear that many conceptual problems remain unsolved, and that the urgency usually associated with humanitarian relief prevents a deeper understanding of the issues at stake.

International Law as a Basis for Humanitarian Intervention

There is no state right to humanitarian intervention. No government has under any circumstances the right to violate the territorial integrity and political independence of another state in order to assist, for instance, the starving population of that state. A discussion of such a state right to intervention thus appears largely irrelevant.[5]

Two arguments for the legitimacy and legality of humanitarian intervention have been made. The first is based on the right to self-defence and concerns unilateral action, the second invokes chapter vii of the UN charter and applies to multilateral action (or action authorised by the UN security council).[6]

i) The only case that can be made for unilateral intervention is based on the right to self-defence under article 51 of the UN charter. This point is relevant to a discussion of humanitarian intervention because it was made by all three countries which in recent history undertook unilateral intervention that could legitimately be called “humanitarian” (India, Vietnam, and Tanzania). In other words, not even those who did intervene in humanitarian emergencies based their actions on a universal right to unilateral intervention. Transnational refugee flows or other destabilising events caused by humanitarian emergencies can be construed as a threat to the national security of the receiving country, and their prevention through humanitarian intervention would thus fall under article 51.[7]

ii) Unilateral action under article 51, however, does not substantially differ from multilateral action under chapter vii insofar as every threat to international peace and security seems to be necessarily a threat to a particular country at the same time. If the flow of refugees from country A to country B poses a threat to international peace and security, it clearly poses also a threat to country B. The crucial difference between self-defence and multilateral action lies in the validation of such a claim by the security council in the latter case. Multilateral action enjoys wider acceptance in virtue of its undisputed legitimacy. This holds true even for “peace enforcement” operations which, unlike “peacekeeping” operations, do not need the consent of all the involved parties to be carried out. Furthermore, the deployment of military forces not directly involved in the initial conflict ensures (or is intended to ensure) that the troops acting on behalf of the UN do not transgress their mandate to pursue narrow national policies.

The interpretation of humanitarian crises as threats to international peace and security reveals the intricate link between the two. Flows of refugees are a strong indication of domestic conditions which have the potential to disrupt regional stability. In other words, the fact that a particular government cannot provide for, or indeed infringes on the security of its subjects is a clear symptom of dangerous political instability. Moreover, the pure magnitude of refugee flows can severely undermine the stability of receiving countries, particularly where the refugee crisis takes place in an unstable or poor region, which it usually does. In such cases, the invocation of chapter vii to legitimise intervention does not appear excessive, although (for various reasons) the security council has authorised chapter vii actions frequently after 1990 and only twice [8] before. The unique element of such interventions lies in the fact that they often concern states that do not pose a military threat to their neighbours (as did Iraq); a direct military threat, however, was what the drafters of chapter vii had in mind.

To regard humanitarian crises as threats to regional stability means to acknowledge that there are no purely humanitarian problems: to talk of a politicisation of humanitarianism makes only sense when it is meant as a recognition of what has always been an element of aid and relief. To stress the political element even in traditional humanitarian assistance highlights how problematic the distinction between peacekeeping as an answer to political troubles and relief action as an answer to humanitarian crises really is. Even emergencies falling under the criteria for traditional humanitarian relief have a political character. (The decision, for instance, whether to respond to a particular crisis is highly political. This will be discussed in the paragraphs dealing with “practical” problems.)

An important conceptual and practical consequence of this realisation is the establishment of humanitarian measures as instruments of security policy. National interest has always been a strong element of humanitarian relief, and honesty in this respect could only make “humanitarian” engagement more robust, provided the multilateral controls really work. This would further collapse the distinction between the motives underlying self-defence and multilateral action. Dowty and Loescher note that the “disinterest” of traditional peacekeeping forces cannot play a role in such operations if the reason for action by particular states lies precisely in the fact that these states are most affected.[9] Their self-interest would thus provide the strongest rationale for intervention. Recent practice – I already mentioned CIS-peacekeeping in Georgia; the French “operation turquoise” in Rwanda is another example – shows that this is well understood by the UN, but it also shows the dangers inherent in further eroding the “United Nationsness” [10] of peacekeeping. Finally, the price we would have to pay for grounding humanitarian intervention on considerations of strategy alone consists in the very real danger that some, perhaps many crises simply fall through the net of regional self-interest. The conflicts in Rwanda or Afghanistan or Sudan may be serious, but as long as no regional power feels threatened by them, the prospects of outside intervention are weak. This is morally indefensible and potentially subversive of the idea of general human standards enforced by individual states under multilateral authorisation, and it clearly contravenes the legal obligation of governments in dealing with genocide. That these provisions are not taken seriously anyway is no reason to discard them altogether.

Jim Whitman has argued in this context for a formal procedure to preserve the independence of UN bodies without paralysing action: “What is required is not a legal or quasi-legal empowerment of states to assert that their interventions are undertaken on behalf of the international community, but a range of measures (including intervention when appropriate) which are collectively determined, sanctioned and controlled. In other words, not expediency and pragmatism, but law enforcement.”[11] While such a mechanism would certainly streamline international humanitarian efforts and secure that humanitarianism not be a simple pretext for power politics, it is exactly this pretext-character of the current system that makes its reform unlikely. As Brian Urquhart has recently remarked: “The ‘UN’ has served as a useful fig leaf and scapegoat in situations where governments did not wish be involved in direct military intervention [...].”[12] It is unlikely that the governments most involved – the permanent members of the security council – would do away with such an effective instrument for disguising their failures. Doubts about its political feasibility aside, the proposal does not address the most fundamental element of law enforcement: equity. The only remedy for the selective use of the collective right to interfere would be, as Whitman notes, the proclamation of a duty to interfere [13] – hardly a concept to be met with much enthusiasm on the side of governments and organisations complaining about “humanitarian overload”.

The Politicisation of Humanitarian Assistance

The assumptions, values and considerations informing traditional humanitarian relief are crystallisations of a particular morality. Their translation into action (or inaction) has always been governed by political mechanisms. Common sense morality has it that we cannot simply watch and stand by as people starve to death; whom we choose to help in particular (and, by implication, whom we choose not to help), by contrast, is a political question. Although the provisions of international law supposedly orienting international organisations are universal, their application is not. In the words of one observer, “[f]or the foreseeable future, the security council’s decision to intervene or not to intervene in a particular conflict will reflect not internationally agreed-upon objective criteria, but the domestic imperatives of the major powers.”[14] The same holds true for fundamental moral values: that they are meant to be universally applicable does not ensure that they are in fact universally applied.

This inconsistency in applying the supposedly universal norms of international law amounts in fact to a double standard: “when the bad guys are weak, such as Iraq in Kurdistan, intervention pops to the top of the agenda; when they are strong, such as Russia in Chechnya, little is said.”[15] This is, however, just a further indication that humanitarian politics are politics after all.

Humanitarian politics are essentially hegemonic politics. Specifically, humanitarian action is frequently used as a substitute for political action. As Rosalyn Higgins put it in regard to Bosnia, “We have chosen to respond to major unlawful violence not by stopping that violence, but by trying to provide relief to the suffering.”[16] This sort of crisis management has two severe consequences:

i) Political action is usually precluded by humanitarian assistance as soon as a political solution exceeds the scope of traditional peacekeeping. In other words, traditional humanitarian aid precludes (and is often intended to preclude) any sort of intervention, humanitarian or not. The old joke that the UN forgot to put the letter S into UNPROFOR – UNSPROFOR for UN self-protection force – has, unfortunately, some truth in it and indicates how aid workers and peacekeepers became the true objects of military assistance: UNPROFOR was not deployed to assist the Bosnian civilians but to assist those who assisted them.

In the case of the former Yugoslavia, moreover, humanitarian action was brought about by embarrassment rather than genuine concern and by the will not to get involved rather than by the wish to help. Humanitarian action in Bosnia was designed to deflect domestic pressure for political intervention. Humanitarian assistance was a way of showing presence on the ground while gaining time with innumerable international conferences. This was all the more disingenuous as the West shares a great deal of responsibility in the escalation of the Yugoslav dissolution. Western governments did not hesitate to intervene massively when Croatian and Slovenian independence was concerned or earlier, when the IMF wanted a particular institutional arrangement implemented.[17] The gravest and most morally repugnant (and possibly illegal) intervention, however, has been to deny the Bosnian government the means to defend itself – on humanitarian grounds.

The situation in Rwanda, by contrast, escalated far too rapidly for international public opinion to get too aroused in time; the problems started only later. After the world had stood by and watched as perhaps half a million people were slaughtered, there was suddenly the feeling that “something had to be done” about the refugees pouring into Zaire. That they were heavily manipulated by the perpetrators of the genocide[18] did not matter in these circumstances. The fact that they were dying a slow death in front of TV cameras was more important than the reason why they had fled their country in the first place.

The way in which purely humanitarian responses to political crises undermine the effort to solve the underlying problems has been nicely summarised by Alan Dowty and Gil Loescher: “Charity alone often helps to perpetuate the injustice that caused the refugee flight, since it relieves the sending country of pressure to correct the injustice.”[19]

ii) Humanitarian assistance has at times not only been used as a pretext not to act politically, but there are also cases in which a crisis has in fact been exacerbated by relief operations. The heavy dependence of aid workers on local warlords in Somalia has arguably not only prolonged the conflict in providing all sides with the means to carry on their quarrels, but has also exacerbated it in the sense that old rivalries got reinforced. And on Bosnia, Dowty and Loescher have remarked that “until recently humanitarian assistance not only has been a substitute for more direct intervention by states and regional organisations, but has also been used by combatants to further their political objectives and to prolong the conflict.”[20] This problem, too, is not confined to the “new” kind of humanitarianism.

The end of the cold war has fundamentally changed the character of multilateral action. As the United Nations does not have any military capabilities of its own, military intervention has to be carried out either by UN troops provided by individual member countries – which poses serious practical problems – or by regional sub-contractors (such as the French in Rwanda, the Russians in Georgia, or NATO in Bosnia).[21] Both approaches share the same problem, however: the tendency of governments to regard their troops as instruments of their foreign policy, regardless of whether they are operating under UN command. In the case of “sub-contractors”, this tendency raises serious questions about the accountability of such troops operating under UN authorisation but not UN command. To cite but one example, NATO air support for UN troops in Bosnia took place under the general authorisation by security council resolutions and under the case-to-case authorisation provided for by the dual-key command structure where both UN and NATO officials had to agree on particular air raids. The NATO general secretary of the time promptly stated that NATO was not “a sub-contractor of the United Nations”[22], and NATO, on two occasions, enforced heavy weapon exclusion zones without any security council authorisation. It is hard to see how a senior UN official responsible for peacekeeping can conclude that UN co-operation with NATO “has involved a few hiccups [...], but the few problems that have arisen have been resolved without undue difficulty.”[23] This seems quite an understatement in light of recent reports [24] describing the exasperation felt by NATO’s secretary general (the late Manfred Woerner) in dealing with the UN special envoy; and the accusation that the (British) UN military commander in Bosnia instructed British troops on the ground to sabotage NATO air strikes would certainly, if true, indicate more than a few hiccups. And Bosnia, of course, is what one analyst has called a “best case”[25], namely one in which the conflict takes place in a well-developed part of the world with well-endowed regional security organisations, and a case in which the great powers, because of domestic pressure, cannot simply turn their heads (as they chose to do, among others, in Rwanda).

The particular danger of authorising regional organisations to deal with humanitarian need lies not so much in diverging interests resulting in internal divisions (as the example cited above would suggest) as in a revival of good old realpolitik under UN cover. Indeed, it seems that the spheres of influence have not much changed since the cold war: Russia acts in Georgia, the US in Haiti, NATO (with face-saving Russian participation under nominal US command) in former Yugoslavia, the US with its western allies and face-saving Arab participation in the Persian Gulf, France in Central Africa. The operations in Georgia, Haiti, and Rwanda were all approved by the UN security council between late June and late July 1994 and “demonstrated a growing acquiescence on the part of the security council in major-power intervention in regional disputes.”[26] The sad truth, as the Yugoslav example clearly shows, is that decisive action is unlikely as long as the relevant powers do not lead. For reasons of self-interest, France was willing to act militarily in Rwanda (after the genocide) but not really in Bosnia. And the (US-) Presidential Decision Directive 25 of May 1994 does not exactly announce a new era of American leadership.[27] As noted above, as long as humanitarian action does take place, motivation may be secondary. But it is not when no intervention takes place; norms of “justifiable intervention” sound hollow when such intervention is precluded by supposed domestic unease about military engagement. To complicate matters, such decisions are typically explained in practical terms rather than presented as moral choices.

“Practical Problems”

The obvious political character of the problems discussed so far makes it easier to see how questions frequently presented as “practical” have a strong political content. Talking of their political content means also recognising that they can be re-cast in moral terms. Morality is not an additional normative level “above” the operative choices military commanders have to make; morality and the realistic discourse of military and political decision are different ways of discussing essentially the same thing. It is not immoral to cast doubt on, for example, western inaction in Bosnia in purely self-interested terms or even in the crudest discourse of all – the discourse of financial expediency. The US General Accounting Office has concluded that the American part of IFOR will cost roughly $ 3.5 Billion, under the condition that American troops in fact end their mission in December 1996.[28] It is probably not too far-fetched to argue that an earlier involvement would have been less costly in financial terms – not to speak of the 250.000 Bosnians who paid for western indecision with their lives. In Rwanda, the US and the European Union provided $ 1.5 billion in emergency aid in 1994 – after the death of at least half a million, and the displacement of more than four million Rwandans.[29] If moral indignation in itself seems not to be a politically sufficient reason for intervention, then perhaps financial considerations will, as Thomas Weiss has observed, make prevention more plausible.[30]

Political and moral problems are being presented as practical difficulties because the discourse of military expertise is hard to dispute. The immense gap between the civilian and military cultures and the fact that most journalists have but the most basic ideas about military strategy has led to a paradox situation concerning military intervention. Most pro-interventionists in the case of Bosnia were civilians; military authorities, even those not directly employed by governments who did not want to get involved, were typically extremely cautious. While caution is certainly in place when military intervention is presented as a panacea for previously intractable conflicts, the no-casualties foreign policy of the Clinton administration casts serious doubts on the capacity of the “international community” to effectively respond to major challenges such as the war in the former Yugoslavia. American reluctance to get involved in situations like Bosnia apparently falls under the heading “Lessons from Vietnam”. But the relevance of the Vietnam lesson depends on the terms of engagement; it is hard to see how a policy aiming at stopping genocide in accordance with international law can be compared with a policy of dropping bombs on unarmed civilians in countries not even involved in the conflict.

If the hegemony of military prudence and technical competence is to be overcome, “practical” questions have to be recast in moral and political terms. Only if their essentially political character is understood can the monopoly of specialised knowledge be broken. Military action is not pure strategy, and military politics are not just the politics of necessity over which morality may (or may not) judge without really influencing anything. Military means have to be understood in their political dimension; military might is instrumental, particularly in pursuit of humanitarian goals, but to use it as an instrument, a clear understanding of the relevant political mechanisms at work is needed. The discussion on intervention in Bosnia was led in terms of military expediency, not moral obligation. Those advocating military intervention typically used its feasibility – meaning air-strikes without casualties – as their prime argument, not moral or legal obligation. They were usually not honest enough to admit that there were considerable risks associated with effective and effectual intervention, and they were not arguing that these risks may be worthwhile. The real question, ultimately, was whether the west was willing to risk the lives of probably many of its soldiers in order to stop genocide.

In conclusion, it seems clear that there is no alternative to the UN system of humanitarian assistance and intervention. More dynamism in dealing with emergencies would certainly be welcome, but although leadership is essential here, multilateral action (or, at least, authorisation of unilateral action by the security council) is necessary to ensure a minimal degree of equity. However, the forces opposed to a real reform of the UN system should not be underestimated.

A further point (which I can only touch upon here) concerns the generation of public confidence in and domestic support of humanitarian intervention. The attitude of the media is – apart from the governments themselves – a key element here. Only military expertise, coupled with a fundamental scepticism for easy solutions, can break the virtual information monopoly that governments enjoy in the strategic field. The media are also playing a central role in providing the terms in which military and political options are discussed. The “Vietnam syndrome” does not exist in an intellectual vacuum; it can be manipulated and used for specific political goals. Such metaphors often have an uncanny power over otherwise rational discussions.[31]

Future conceptual clarification thus seems as important as institutional reform – indeed, it appears that the latter would be ineffectual without the former. However, whether we base our actions on expediency, strategy, or morality, it is to hope that at least one of these arguments will prove strong enough to prevent us from standing by and doing nothing when fundamental human values are at stake.

Tobias Vogel studied classical languages and holds an MA in philosophy from the University of Zurich. He is currently working toward a doctoral degree in international relations at the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research in New York.


[1] “Relative” because the underlying problem – how to respond to systematic and gross human rights abuse – has not been addressed. The serious implications of the “safe zone” policy for Iraqi sovereignty are tolerable only under the extraordinary conditions existing in the region.

[2] Although this paper disputes a strict division between the “new” and the “traditional” forms of humanitarian assistance, it is still necessary to separate the two in terminology. “Humanitarian intervention” is generally used in this “novel” sense while “humanitarian assistance”, “relief”, and similar expressions refer to the traditional form. The term “intervention”, by contrast, will be used for all kinds of action, humanitarian or not, that constitute outside interference, whether requested by the concerned government or not.

[3] I use transnational refugee flows as the prime example for humanitarian crises. There are, of course, other examples which do not as openly involve questions of international action, particularly famines. It is important to see, however, that even famines not directly attributable to government action or inaction typically have political problems at their roots.

[4] cf. Jane Perlez, “NATO Backs Off Helping Bosnia War Crimes Panel”, New York Times, 20 January 1996; Emma Daly, “Serbs Cover Up Traces of Their Killing Fields”, The Independent, 3 April 1996; Mike O’Connor, “New Refugee Conflict Points Up Flaw in Bosnia Pact”, New York Times, 29 April 1996; Jane Perlez, “War Crimes Prosecutor Vents Frustrations”, New York Times, 22 May 1996; Chris Hedges, “U.S. and Allies Fail to Strip Top Bosnia Serbs of Power”, New York Times, 24 May 1996; Anna Husarska, “Bosnia’s Vote Fraud”, Washington Post, 26 May 1996; Patrick Moore, “IFOR Lets Mladic Off the Hook”, Open Media Research Institute, Daily Digest 15 August 1996.

[5] Yet it is exactly such a state right that is discussed in Jim Whitman, “A Cautionary Note on Humanitarian Intervention”, Journal of Humanitarian Assistance, 15 September 1995. I certainly share his scepticism when state rights are all there is to discuss. What should make us cautious, however, is the fact that his emphasis on state intervention is based on a remark by the then British Foreign Secretary concerning the pro-Kurdish intervention in Iraq. This is hardly a good reason to discuss exclusively state rights.

[6] Texts outlining an evolving consensus on extended rights to interfere are listed in the appendix to this article. Journal articles and case studies have generally not been included, and this bibliography is far from exhaustive.

[7] This is in essence the argument of Alan Dowty and Gil Loescher, “Refugee Flows as Grounds for International Action”, International Security, 21:1 (Summer 1996), pp.43-71.

[8] In South Africa and Rhodesia.

[9] Alan Dowty and Gil Loescher, “Refugee Flows as Grounds for International Action”, International Security, 21:1 (Summer 1996), p.61. They also provide a concise discussion of the operational changes that a shift from traditional peacekeeping to action under chapter vii inevitably brings about, concerning not only “disinterest” but also “proportionality” – such actions are directed against the cause of humanitarian need rather than the symptoms.

[10] The phrase is Shashi Tharoor’s: “The Role of the United Nations in European Peacekeeping”, in: Abram Chayes and Antonia Handler Chayes (eds), Preventing Conflict in the Post-Communist World. Mobilizing International and Regional Organizations, Washington DC 1996, p.471. For a short discussion on the advisability of involving regional powers in humanitarian interventions, see Thomas G.Weiss, “Collective Spinelessness: U.N. Actions in the Former Yugoslavia”, in: Richard H.Ullman (ed.), The World and Yugoslavia’s Wars, New York 1996, pp.77f, and Marc Weller (ed.), Regional Peacekeeping and International Enforcement: the Liberian Crisis, Cambridge UK 1994.

[11] Jim Whitman, “A Cautionary Note on Humanitarian Intervention”, Journal of Humanitarian Assistance, 15 September 1995.

[12] Brian Urquhart, “Where Are We Going?”, Brown Journal of World Affairs, 3:1 (Winter/Spring 1996), p.146. See also Barbara Crossette, “Experts’ Study Says Attacking U.N. Hurts U.S.”, New York Times, 20 August 1996, and Michael Ignatieff, “The Seductiveness of Moral Disgust”, Index on Censorship, 24:5 (September/October 1995), pp.22-38.

[13] cf. Mario Bettati, Le droit d’ingerence: mutation de l’ordre international, Paris 1996.

[14] Barry R.Posen, “Military Responses to Refugee Disasters”, International Security, 21:1 (Summer 1996), p.94.

[15] Barry R.Posen, “Military Responses to Refugee Disasters”, International Security, 21:1 (Summer 1996), p.94.

[16] Rosalyn Higgins, “The New United Nations and Former Yugoslavia”, International Affairs, 69 (July 1993), p.469.

[17] For these questions, cf. Richard H.Ullman (ed.), The World and Yugoslavia’s Wars, New York 1996; Mario Zucconi, “The European Union in the Former Yugoslavia”, in: Abram Chayes and Antonia Handler Chayes (eds.), Preventing Conflict in the Post-Communist World. Mobilizing International and Regional Organizations, Washington DC, 1996, pp.237-278; the standard article concerning the legal aspects remains Marc Weller, “The International Response to the Dissolution of the SRY”, American Journal of International Law , 86:3 (July 1992), pp.569-607; cf. also Colin Warbrick, “Recognition of States, Current Developments: Public International Law”, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 41/2 (April 1992), pp.473-482; for the IMF in particular, see Susan L.Woodward, Balkan Tragedy. Chaos and Dissolution After the Cold War, Washington DC 1995, pp.47-81.

[18] My use of “genocide” here and in the case of Bosnia is consistent with the 1948 genocide convention. While there are good reasons to deplore the extremely broad conception of the term in the convention, it would be mistaken to deny that what took place in Bosnia has been genocide in this sense.

[19] Alan Dowty and Gil Loescher, “Refugee Flows as Grounds for International Action”, International Security, 21:1 (Summer 1996), p.51.

[20] Alan Dowty and Gil Loescher, “Refugee Flows as Grounds for International Action”, International Security, 21:1 (Summer 1996), p.51.

[21] cf. Louise Fawcett and Andrew Hurrell (eds.), Regionalism in World Politics: Regional Organizations and World Order, Oxford UK 1996; Thomas G.Weiss and Edwin M.Smith (eds.), “Tempering Collaboration: UN Task-sharing with Regional and Nongovernmental Organizations”, Third World Quarterly, 18:3 (Summer 1997, forthcoming); Alex Morrison, “UN Peacekeeping Reform: Something Permanent and Stronger”, Brown Journal of World Affairs, 3:1 (Winter/Spring 1996), pp.95-110 .

[22] Willy Claes, quoted by Reuters, 27 October 1994.

[23] Shashi Tharoor, “The Role of the United Nations in European Peacekeeping”, in: Abram Chayes and Antonia Handler Chayes, (eds.), Preventing Conflict in the Post-Communist World. Mobilizing International and Regional Organizations, Washington DC, 1996, p.475.

[24] Ed Vulliamy, “Allies at Odds Prolonged Bloodshed”, The Guardian, 27 April 1996.

[25] Thomas G.Weiss, “Collective Spinelessness: U.N. Actions in the Former Yugoslavia”, in: Richard H.Ullman (ed.), The World and Yugoslavia’s Wars, New York 1996, p.78.

[26] Thomas G.Weiss, “Collective Spinelessness: U.N. Actions in the Former Yugoslavia”, in: Richard H.Ullman (ed.), The World and Yugoslavia’s Wars, New York 1996, p.78.

[27] For a short discussion of PDD 25, see Thomas G.Weiss, “Collective Spinelessness: U.N. Actions in the Former Yugoslavia”, in: Richard H.Ullman (ed.), The World and Yugoslavia’s Wars, New York 1996, p.74. For the view of a US government official, see James P. Terry, “UN Peacekeeping and Military Reality”, Brown Journal of World Affairs, 3:1 (Winter/Spring 1996), pp.135-144.

[28] [AP], “Bosnia Force Costs U.S. $ 3.5 Billion a Year”, New York Times, 8 August 1996.

[29] cf. GJrard Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide, New York 1995; Patrick J. O’Halloran, Humanitarian Intervention and the Genocide in Rwanda, London 1995; Steering Committee of the Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, The International Response to Conflict and Genocide: Lessons from the Rwanda Experience, Copenhagen 1996, [also in Journal for Humanitarian Assistance, March 1996]; Larry Minear and Philippe Guillot, Soldiers to the Rescue: Humanitarian Lessons from Rwanda, Paris 1996 (forthcoming).

[30] I, unlike Weiss, use “prevention” to cover humanitarian intervention. The liberal idea of preventing violence by economic development seems hardly relevant in relatively prosperous countries like Rwanda and Burundi, where intense western meddling and development assistance have not managed to prevent the preparation and perpetration of genocide.

[31] A short discussion of the “Vietnam syndrome” can be found in Richard Sobel, “U.S. and European Attitudes toward Intervention in the Former Yugoslavia: Mourir pour la Bosnie?”, in: Richard H.Ullman (ed.), The World and Yugoslavia’s Wars, New York 1996, pp.145-181. See also Eric V.Larson, Casualties and Consensus. The Historical Role of Casualties in Domestic Support for U.S. Military Operations, Santa Monica CA, 1996, who stresses the importance of leadership in generating support.

Appendix: Norms of International Intervention

Christiane Alibert, Du droit de se faire justice dans la societe internationale depuis 1945, Paris 1983.

Ramses Amer, The United Nations and Foreign Military Interventions: a Comparative Study of the Application of the Charter, Uppsala 1992.

Anthony C.Arend and Robert J.Beck, International Law and the Use of Force: beyond the UN Charter Paradigm, London, New York 1993.

Coral Bell (ed.), The United Nations and Crisis Management: Six Studies, Canberra 1994.

Mario Bettati and Bernard Kouchner, Le devoir d’ingerence: peut-on les laisser mourir?, Paris 1987.

Mario Bettati, Le droit d’ingerence: mutation de l’ordre international, Paris 1996.

Michael E. Brown (ed.), International Dimensions of Internal Conflicts, Cambridge MA 1996.

Radharaman Chakrabarti, Intervention and the Problem of its Control in the Twentieth Century, New Delhi 1974.

Jarat Chopra and Thomas G. Weiss: “Sovereignty Is No Longer Sacrosanct: Codifying Humanitarian Intervention”, Ethics and International Affairs 6(1992), pp.95-117.

Walter Clarke and Jeffrey Herbst, Somalia and the Future of Humanitarian Intervention, Princeton NJ 1995.

Richard M. Connaughton, Military Intervention in the 1990s: a New Logic of War, London and New York 1992.

Olivier Corten and Pierre Klein, Droit d’ingerence ou obligation de reaction? Les possibilites d’action visant a assurer le respect des droits de la personne face au principe de non-intervention, Brussels 1992.

Lori Fisler Damrosch and David J. Scheffer (eds.), Law and Force in the New International Order, Boulder CO 1991.

Lori Fisler Damrosch (ed.), Enforcing Restraint: Collective Intervention in Internal Conflicts, New York 1993.

Donald C.F. Daniel and Bradd C. Hayes (eds.), Beyond Traditional Peacekeeping, New York 1995.

Lynn E. Davis, Peacekeeping and Peacemaking after the Cold War, Santa Monica CA 1993.

Simon Duke, “The United Nations and Intra-state Conflict”, International Peacekeeping, 1:4 (Winter 1994), pp.375-393.

Milton J. Esman and Shibley Telhami (eds.), International Organizations and Ethnic Conflict, Ithaca NY 1995.

Ian Forbes and Mark Hoffman (eds.), Political Theory, International Relations, and the Ethics of Intervention, New York 1993.

Ernst B. Haas, Beware the Slippery Slope, Notes Toward the Definition of Justifiable Intervention, Berkeley CA, 1993.

Barbara Harff, Genocide and Human Rights: International Legal and Political Issues, Denver CO 1984.

Marianne Heiberg (ed.), Subduing Sovereignty: Sovereignty and the Right to Intervene, London and New York 1994.

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