2010 | 23 | 22-43
Article title

Humanitarian intervention - eight theories

Title variants
Languages of publication
Much has been written about the ethics of humanitarian intervention in the past fifteen years. In this paper I discuss a variety of justifications that have been proposed (in fact, seven theories of justification), finding difficulties with each of them, and then I offer a theory of justification of my own. My approach to justification will differ from most of the earlier accounts in two ways. First, I begin the discussion of justification at a different point. Second, I seek to expand the traditional discussion of humanitarian intervention to cover an area not usually addressed, namely, the question of the scope of justified humanitarian intervention. If humanitarian intervention is sometimes justified, precisely when is it justified? This is no merely academic question, given the belated appeal to humanitarian intervention on the part of those scrambling to provide a public justification of the war in Iraq.
Physical description
  • Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  • Adelman [1992] – Howard Adelman, The Ethics of Humanitarian Intervention: The Case of the Kurdish Refugees, “Public Affairs Quarterly” 6 (1) 1992: 61-87.
  • Bagnoli [2006] – Carla Bagnoli, Humanitarian Intervention as a Perfect Duty: a Kantian Argument, in: Humanitarian Intervention, Terry Nardin and Melissa Williams (eds.), New York University Press, New York 2006: 117-140.
  • Hehir [1979] – Bryan Hehir, The Ethics of Intervention: Two Normative Traditions, in: Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy, Peter Brown and Douglas MacLean (eds.), Lexington Books, Lexington, MA 1979.
  • Hehir [1998] – Bryan Hehir, Military Intervention and National Sovereignty: Recasting the Relationship, in: Hard Choices: Moral Dilemmas in Humanitarian Intervention, Jonathan Moore (ed.), Rowman and Littlefield, Lanham, MD 1998.
  • Hoffmann [1996] – Stanley Hoffmann, Sovereignty and the Ethics of Intervention, in: The Ethics and Politics of Humanitarian Intervention, Stanley Hoffmann et al., University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, IN 1996: 12-37.
  • ICISS [2001] – International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, The Responsibility to Protect: Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, International Development Research Corporation, Ottawa 2001.
  • Krause [1986] – Harry Krause, Family Law in a Nutshell, West Publishing Co., St. Paul, MN 1986.
  • Luban [1985] – David Luban, Just War and Human Rights, in: International Ethics, Charles Beitz et al. (eds.), Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ 1985.
  • Luban [2002] – David Luban, Intervention and Civilization: Some Unhappy Lessons of the Kos- ovo War, in: Global Justice and Transnational Politics, Pablo De Greiff and Ciaran Cronin (eds.), MIT Press, Cambridge, MA 2002: 79-115.
  • Lucas [2004] – George Lucas, From Jus ad bellum to Jus ad pacem: Rethinking Just War Criteria for the Use of Military Force for Humanitarian Ends, in: Humanitarian Intervention, Donald Scheid and Deen K. Chatterjee (eds.), Cambridge University Press, New York 2004: 72-96.
  • Rawls [1999] – John Rawls, The Law of Peoples, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA 1999.
  • Reidy, Riker [2008] – David Reidy, Walter Riker (eds.), Coercion and the State, Springer, 2008.
  • Shue [1996] – Henry Shue, Basic Rights: Subsistence, Affluence, and U.S. Foreign Policy, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ 1996.
  • Teson [1997] – Fernardo Teson, Humanitarian Intervention: An Inquiry into Law and Morality, Transnational Publishers, Dobbs Ferry 1997.
  • Teson [2003] – Fernardo Teson, The Liberal Case for Humanitarian Intervention, in: Humanitarian Intervention: Ethical, Legal, and Political Dilemmas, J. Holzgrefe and Robert Keohane (eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2003.
  • Walzer [1977] – Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, Basic Books, New York 1977.
  • Welsh [n.d.] – Jennifer Welsh, The International Community and the ‘Responsibility to Protect’: Dilemmas in Establishing Collective Responsibility, unpublished MS.
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.