All Necessary Measures: The United Nations and Humanitarian Intervention

All Necessary Measures: The United Nations and Humanitarian Intervention

All Necessary Measures: The United Nations and Humanitarian Intervention

All Necessary Measures: The United Nations and Humanitarian Intervention


What prompts the United Nations Security Council to engage forcefully in some crises at high risk for genocide and ethnic cleansing but not others? In All Necessary Measures, Carrie Booth Walling identifies several systematic patterns in the stories that council members tell about conflicts and the policy solutions that result from them. Drawing on qualitative comparative case studies spanning two decades, including situations where the council has intervened to stop mass killing (Somalia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Sierra Leone) as well as situations where it has not (Rwanda, Kosovo, and Sudan), Walling posits that the arguments council members make about the cause and character of conflict as well as the source of sovereign authority in target states have the potential to enable or constrain the use of military force in defense of human rights.

At a moment when constructivist scholars in international relations are pushing beyond empirical claims for the value of norms and toward critical analysis of such norms, All Necessary Measures establishes discourse's real-world explanatory power. From her comparative chronology, Walling demonstrates that humanitarian intervention becomes possible when the majority of Security Council members come to a shared understanding of the conflict, perpetrators, and victims--and probable when the Council understands state sovereignty as complementary to human rights norms. By illuminating the relationship between national interests and the core values of Security Council members and how it influences decision-making, All Necessary Measures suggests when and where the Security Council is likely to intervene in the future.


It is important that when civilians in grave danger cry out, the
international community, undaunted, is ready to respond.

—UN Security Council, 17 March 2011

On the evening of 17 March 2011, members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) met to discuss the deteriorating security situation in Libya. It was the fourth Security Council meeting on Libya in a month following the outbreak of violence between Colonel Muammar Qadhafi’s regime and the opponents to his rule. What started out in mid-February as peaceful protests against arbitrary arrest and extrajudicial killing by the government quickly deteriorated into an armed rebellion to overthrow Qadhafi and remove his regime from power. In the face of early rebel advances in the western region of the country, Qadhafi’s son Saif al-Islam Qadhafi had threatened that “rivers of blood will run through Libya” and casualties would increase from the dozens into the thousands if protesters refused to accept regime-initiated reforms. Hours before the 17 March Security Council meeting, Colonel Qadhafi’s forces were poised to retake the rebel-held city of Benghazi. Qadhafi warned Benghazi’s residents that his forces would come that night and “they would show no mercy or compassion” to the opponents of his rule. The Security Council, in United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York, was contemplating the text of a draft resolution submitted by France, Lebanon, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States (U.S.). The resolution proposed the creation of a nofly zone in the airspace of Libya and authorized member states to take “all necessary measures” to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.