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Why has the concept of humanitarian intervention provoked so much debate in political commentary?

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´╗┐Murad Khalimov Why has the concept of humanitarian intervention provoked so much debate in political commentary? Humanitarian intervention encompasses the international community?s actions to assist the population of a state experiencing severe human suffering caused by political collapse, deliberate government policy or natural disaster. The principles that guide humanitarian intervention continue to be a matter of heated debate. The issue is not whether there exists a compelling need and moral obligation to express concerns about populations at risk of slaughter, starvation, or persecution; the issue is about how to craft a just response, when any response will comprise interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state. Humanitarian intervention is controversial because it pits the legal principle of territorial sovereignty against what some see as a moral duty to protect vulnerable populations from egregious violations of human rights. While the construction of global human rights norms has made great strides over the past sixty years, the enforcement of human rights laws has lagged. Within the UN, the OHCHR is responsible for implementing international human rights agreements, overseeing major human rights programs, and providing global leadership on the promotion and protection of human rights. ...read more.


In response to these limitations, nongovernmental organizations have assumed an important role in promoting human rights. They have developed an array of transnational advocacy networks and strategies designed to pressure governments to modify their behaviour to conform to prevailing human rights norms and laws. With greater openness to institutional activism in the post-Cold War era, human rights activist have pressed to strengthen enforcement mechanisms. Their efforts account in part for the establishment of UN tribunals to review gross human rights abuse, as in the cases of the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the creation of the ICC. Activists are also credited with monitoring human rights situations and targeting a ?spotlight? of publicity and public scrutiny on abusive practices to shame those that violate human rights into changing their behaviour. While some individuals remain sceptical of claims that we all have transcendent moral obligations to humanity as a whole, others believe that everyone, by virtue of being human, has certain inherent and inalienable rights that warrant international protection. Challenging the realist premise that human rights are at odds with national interest, Executive Director of Amnesty International William Schulz laments ...read more.


Some argue that it is justified as Gaddafi used air forces against his own people and so in order to stop genocide should be stopped form doing so. However others argue that Libya is sovereign country and so west have no right to intervene regardless of what going on in there. Also West can be accused in having double standards. While bombing Libya for ?human rights abuses? it ignores the Bahrain government that already killed quite a few of protesters in the country. Bahrain government is supported by Saudi Arabia, the closed US ally in the Middle East, and so nobody seems to be interested what is going on there. Therefore we can argue that there is no real answer when humanitarian intervention can be used. Maybe Libya was attacked only because of huge media coverage and hysteria? So although there is an emergent norm in support of humanitarian intervention it is still the subject of debate. Because states will never intervene in all situations of humanitarian emergency, state sovereignty remains intact. But in the case of widely recognized gross violations and when military intervention does not conflict with other national interests, then humanitarian intervention is seen as a justified use of force. ...read more.

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