The Global Covenant: Human Conduct in a World of States

By Robert Jackson | Go to book overview

10 Armed Intervention for Humanity

This chapter begins by canvassing some basic normative considerations that would have to be taken into account in justifying armed intervention in contemporary world politics. It goes on to glance at the cold war experience with intervention. Then, against that background, it reviews four cases of international intervention after the cold war: Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, and Kosovo (Yugoslavia). Should international society intervene with armed force in an independent country where there are gross violations of human rights or other grave humanitarian problems but where no obvious threats to peace and security are involved? Should they do that without the consent of the government? These questions cannot be answered categorically because any answer will depend on the circumstances of the case and the normative practices at the time. The chapter approaches the issue of humanitarian intervention with that contextual reality in mind. In the course of the twentieth century, the grounds of legitimate and lawful intervention in sovereign states by armed force, jus ad bellum, were restricted by international society. 1 Several interventions at the end of the century prompt the question whether they are now being expanded and, if so, can that be justified in a pluralist world? The chapter concludes with some reflections on that larger question.


The Jus Ad Bellum of Intervention

Intervention in world politics 'raises questions of the utmost moral complexity: adherents of every political belief will regard intervention as justified under certain circumstances'. 2 That observation of Martin Wight is as applicable today as ever. Any scholar who seeks to shed light on post-cold war interventions in

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