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Humanitarian intervention - Case Study Example

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The modern global community presents the world with several dilemmas in regards to the ability to protect the human rights of all its citizens, preserving the traditions of sovereign borders, and maintaining a rule of law through international governing bodies…
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Humanitarian intervention
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Download file to see previous pages These abstract definitions, which are often social constructs, become even more problematic when viewed through the lens of legitimate ethical concerns. Does a foreign power have the right to intervene and restore order when the disruption of food supplies results in the starvation of massive numbers of children' Does a world military power have the moral obligation to inflict democracy on a people that are oppressed economically, politically, and socially and do not have the benefit of free elections and choice' These questions have come before the international bodies such as the United Nations (UN) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in recent years as the Palestinian oppression, the atrocities in Kosovo, and the genocide in Darfur beg for resolution and are met with impasse and impotence on the world stage. Humanitarian relief and armed intervention is an issue too complex to be limited by preset rules and needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis with morality and ethics as the only relevant veto powers available.
The problems that are presented by international bodies in pursuing an armed humanitarian intervention are very clearly evident in the conflict that arose in Kosovo in 1998-1999. International law presented several obstacles to any unilateral or multi-lateral actions without the near unanimous consent of the United Nations. Article 2(4) of the UN Charter explicitly prohibits military intervention into the internal affairs of any state, and that prohibition extends regardless of ideology (democratic or dictatorial), morality of the ruling government, or intervention for humanitarian purposes (Henkin, 1999, p.824). According to UN rules, certain ruling members have a veto power and in the case of Kosovo, Russia and China were willing to block any unanimous consensus on military intervention. Due to post Cold War animosities, "geography and politics rendered unanimity by the permanent members in support of military action (especially in the Balkans) highly unlikely" (Henkin, 1999, p.825). The United Kingdom, with support of the US, moved forward without the approval of the UN, opting instead to invoke the collective approval of NATO as a legitimate international body that took precedence over the UN based on regional concerns and authority.
Legal scholars generally agree that the NATO action in Kosovo was in violation of international law, though it can be justified through ethical and moral reasoning. While there is some debate on the ultimate effectiveness of the campaign and the amount of suffering alleviated, the focus should remain on the intent of the action. There is no doubt that there were political pressures that moved the impetus to provide humanitarian relief. The NATO action in Kosovo was taken to provide humanitarian relief, avert further catastrophe, prevent the destabilization of key parts of Europe, and to maintain the legitimacy of NATO (Wedgwood, 1999, p.829). Taken one at a time these goals may be insufficient, but their collective weight makes the action more acceptable. However, the fact that this was a Caucasian country and a Euro-centric action cannot be overlooked. Would this action have been initiated if the population were a black African nation' According to Coady (2002, p.26), "responses to exterminations need close examination lest they do contain elements of mere prejudice, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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