The practice of humanitarian intervention after the end of the Cold War: emerging norm or just practice?: humanitarian intervention and international law

Mavridis, Iakovos

August 2006

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© 2006 Iakovos Mavridis. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

This thesis examines the practice of humanitarian intervention after the end of the Cold War. In the 90s there was an evident willingness of the world community to promote and protect human rights. The Security Council got involved in matters traditionally regarded internal affairs of states and imposed economic and diplomatic sanctions. What is more, the UN authorised military interventions in cases where massive abuses of human rights have taken place and this is the most
significant normative change regarding humanitarian intervention. Thus, from "unilateral" humanitarian intervention we move to "collective" humanitarian intervention. Accordingly, the UN Security Council authorised military action in Somalia, Rwanda and Haiti. Yet, although the Council granted authorisation of the use of force, states had been reluctant to recognise a "unilateral" right of humanitarian intervention.

Kosovo is the most challenging case that caused a wide debate regarding the legality of humanitarian intervention. Yet, Kosovo has set a very bad precedent for humanitarian intervention. NATO's violations of humanitarian laws, the bombing against civilian infrastructures, as well as the significant loss of civilian lives proved that the means used were against the proclaimed humanitarian ends. Furthermore, NATO intervention did not bring peace to Kosovo, but the situation remains tense. Thus, it could be argued that the 1999 intervention did not bring a positive and long-term outcome. This is a good case that can illustrate how political and moral omissions can create bad precedents for the emergence of a new norm.

Finally, this thesis concludes that after the attacks of 9/11, the prospects of humanitarian intervention in the future are questionable. War against terrorism became the new form of interventionism in the new millennium. Thus, omissions and failures of the past, along with the new challenges of the world community have curtailed the future of humanitarian intervention.

Law School, The University of Hull
Davidson, Scott, 1954-; Burchill, Richard
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