NATO’s unsanctioned intervention in Kosovo was plainly a breach of Article 2.4 of the UN Charter. The question of whether the threat and use of force in this case can be defended legally will provide further considerable substance upon which the long-running debate on whether there is a right of humanitarian intervention will continue. However, for the many who hold that gross violations of human rights make ethical demands upon us which cannot be overridden by prohibitive law, such situations are presented to us as a form of ‘Justice cannot wait; law cannot bend.’ When serious and widespread suffering resulting from government action or omission within sovereign borders is characterised in this way, we are given to understand that there is a moral, and arguably, even a legal imperative driving (and justifying) action in direct contravention of international law.
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