More Resources on Humanitarian Intervention

January 6, 2001


"The Principles That Should Govern Military Intervention Abroad"
Thought-provoking Economist article (4 January 2001) arguing that "sovereign inviolability" has never been quite as sacrosanct as conventional wisdom believed.

Kosovo and the Challenge of Humanitarian Intervention: Selective Indignation, Collective Action, and International Citizenship
Detailed policy and research briefs on the implications of NATO's involvement in the Kosovo conflict, published in March 2000 by the United Nations University (eds. Albrecht Schnabel and Ramesh Thakur).

Can there ever be a just war for human rights?
BBC World Service interactive debate on which is worse, going to war or not going to war when the human rights of minorities in another country are being violated (includes transcript of an October 2000 radio broadcast on this topic). Contributors are asked to contemplate why NATO decided to bomb Serbia on behalf of Kosovar Albanians, whereas the Chechens are condemned to live in refugee camps in part because NATO decided not to intervene against Russia. NOTE: Kosovo and Chechnya are the case studies for the BBC World Service discussion of Article 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"Intervention in Internal Conflicts: Legal and Political Conundrums"
Working paper arguing the need to adhere to basic standards when deciding whether to use economic sanctions and/or military force against sovereign nations (Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2000).

Foreign Policy In Focus: Humanitarian Military Intervention
January 2000 foreign policy brief by Jules Lobel and Michael Ratner focusing on the dubious legality of NATO intervention in Kosovo (the UN charter prohibits nations from attacking other states to remedy claimed violations of human rights) and insisting on the need for UN authorization.

"Human Rights, Humanitarian Intervention, and Sanctions"
Issue brief explaining how the term "humanitarian intervention" now refers to a range of measures that vary according to the degree of coercion, whereas traditionally it simply meant the use of military force for humanitarian reasons (Arthur C. Helton and Robert P. DeVecchi, Council on Foreign Relations, 2000).

Humanitarian Intervention: A Forum
Article (The Nation, 8 May 2000) juxtaposing views on humanitarian intervention held by human rights advocate Holly Burkhalter, Columbia University professor Mahmood Mamdani, writer Ronald Steel, and globalization expert Mary Kaldor.

Humanitarian Intervention: Somalia and Beyond
Annotated links to articles and essays about the Somalia intervention and about humanitarian intervention in general (Nomad Net). NOTE: Nomad Net was founded by Michael Maren, author of The Road to Hell: The Ravaging Effects of Foreign Aid International Charity, where he argues that aid and humanitarian intervention are a modern form of colonialism, a "humanitarian" cover for maintaining imperialist domination.

The International Monitor Institute
The International Monitor Institute, which collects evidence of human rights violations documented on video and radio and in print, maintains a searchable database of materials relating to the Croatian and Bosnian wars in the early 1990s, the spring 1999 conflict in Kosovo, and the daily proceedings of the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

The Emperor's New Clothes: Piercing a Fog of Lies
Annotated links to articles mostly criticial of NATO's intervention in the Balkans.

"1999 in Review: Global Debate Over Intervention"
Transcript of a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty December 1999 broadcast surveying the major tenets of the humanitarian intervention debate. Ivo Daalder and Michael O'Hanlon, both of Brookings, and sovereignty expert Stephen Krasner offer their opinions.

Balkan Insight
The online publication of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), Balkan Insight includes original analytical and investigative reports covering reforms, the transition process, and business and investment trends in the nine countries of the Balkans, as well as a daily news service covering developments in the region.

Balkans Latest
Links to the latest major documents pertaining to the Balkans that have been added to the ReliefWeb database. A project of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), ReliefWeb is the premier global online source of information on natural disasters and complex emergencies.

International Humanitarian Law in Brief
Annotated links to statements, texts, articles, and selected publications of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

"Humanitarian Intervention: Definitions and Criteria"
Strategic briefing paper outlining the main strands of the debate over whether or not to establish formal criteria for humanitarian intervention (Centre for Strategic Studies New Zealand, June 2000).

Humanitarian Challenges, Politics, and Intervention
Searchable database of books, research monographs, and articles compiled by the Humanitarianism and War Project, a policy research initiative formerly based at Brown University's Watson Institute, now being housed at the Feinstein International Famine Center at Tufts University's School of Nutrition and Science Policy. NOTE: A number of the Project's own publications—including a series of case studies on humanitarian action—can be read online.

Special Report: Peacekeeping in Africa
Report released in February 2001 presenting the major questions and themes brought to light during the United States Institute of Peace conference "The United Nations, The United States, and Peacekeeping Operations: Africa," held in October 2000. Participants analyzed the potential for the "Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations" (known as the Brahimi Report) to effect change.

Journal of Humanitarian Assistance
The Journal of Humanitarian Assistance, an electronic publication managed by the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University, includes previously unpublished articles by field workers and researchers in humanitarian assistance.

East Timor and Indonesia Action Network
Links to the latest articles, press releases, bulletins, and official statements on the reconstruction of East Timor, compiled by the East Timor Action Network (ETAN), an organization dedicated to promoting human rights in East Timor. NOTE: The site also provides comprehensive background information on the history of U.S. policy towards East Timor.
Rich archive of links to articles, primary source documents, background studies, and reports on the human rights situation in Kosovo.

"Reflections on NATO and Kosovo"
Article by Stephen R. Shalom rejecting the interventionist approach to Kosovo and arguing instead for continued negotiations and diplomacy (New Politics, Summer 1999).

The Responsibility to Protect: Report of the International Commission on Intervention & State Sovereignty (ICISS)
Mandated to find a new way to reconcile state sovereignty with the need to respond to grave humanitarian crises, the report's central theme is the idea of "the responsibility to protect." Sovereign states have a responsibility to protect their own citizens from avoidable catastrophe—from mass murder and rape, from starvation—but when they are unwilling or unable to do so, that responsibility must be borne by the broader community of states.

Revisiting Humanitarian Intervention: Post-September 11
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, human rights leaders met at the Carnegie Council to discuss the impact of the unfolding events on their work. The result was lively discussion on the following themes: Who is claiming the human rights mantle in Afghanistan and for what purpose? Should rights NGOs ever advocate armed intervention to stop abuses? Has September 11 adversely affected relations between international and local rights NGOs? What is the proper role of international NGOs in shaping post-conflict institutions?

Military Intervention in Human Rights Crises: Responses and Dilemmas for the Human Rights Movement
On several occasions in recent years, the UN or groups of governments have intervened forcefully on the grounds that there is a need to protect human rights or provide humanitarian assistance. These interventions set precedents that are regarded by some as troubling and by others as progressive. This paper, from the International Council on Human Rights Policy, discusses the issues and dilemmas that arise when military force is advanced as an option to protect human rights.

"Facing up to Genocide: the Obligation to Intervene"
Commentary by Holly Burkhalter in the 1999 issue of the Medicine & Global Survival journal, arguing that NATO's intervention in Kosovo was "deeply troubling" from a human rights perspective because so many civilians ended up losing their lives. See also the editorial by Jennifer Leaning, "Kosovo through the Lens of Human Rights."