Humanitarian intervention - eight theories

Diametros 23:22-43 (2010)

Steven Lee
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Much has been written about the ethics of humanitarian intervention in the past fifteen years. In this paper I discuss a variety of justifications that have been proposed (in fact, seven theories of justification), finding difficulties with each of them, and then I offer a theory of justification of my own. My approach to justification will differ from most of the earlier accounts in two ways. First, I begin the discussion of justification at a different point. Second, I seek to expand the traditional discussion of humanitarian intervention to cover an area not usually addressed, namely, the question of the scope of justified humanitarian intervention. If humanitarian intervention is sometimes justified, precisely when is it justified? This is no merely academic question, given the belated appeal to humanitarian intervention on the part of those scrambling to provide a public justification of the war in Iraq.
Keywords ethics of war  humanitarian intervention  human rights  Walzer  genocide
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