Series 2, No. 5 (Winter 2001): Human Rights in Times of Conflict: Humanitarian Intervention

This issue of Human Rights Dialogue considers military humanitarian intervention and human rights from a perspective that is too often neglected: that of people in the country that has been "intervened upon" in the name of human rights. By printing the testimonies of local advocates of social justice in Kosovo, Bosnia, East Timor, and Sierra Leone, we critically examine the implications of greater participation of state and multilateral actors in human rights discourse, particularly through humanitarian intervention. On the one hand, such engagement creates the political space to take action against human rights violations. On the other hand, when human rights language is expropriated by groups attempting to manipulate the debate, the moral authority of the human rights movement is undermined, as is the credibility of local actors. When this happens, how can human rights principles gain -- or regain -- public legitimacy?