humanitarian intervention debate
humanitarian intervention debate. Explain the characteristics of the current humanitarian intervention debate.
Whilst debates concerning the ethics of humanitarian intervention have been the topic of significant academic discussion over the past two decades, the 2011 intervention in Libya and non-intervention in regard to Syria have arguably generated new intrigue into the morality of international decision-making and the challenge of saving strangers. In response, this book provides a novel approach to addressing the central ethical dilemmas surrounding humanitarian intervention by providing two separate and contrasting views on the case for and against humanitarian intervention. This unique structure is used in order to help identify the fundamental tensions that remain at the very heart of current intervention debates and to reinforce the importance of philosophical inquiry and its key role in helping to evaluate ‘what the international law on intervention ought to be.
The key tensions between the two opposing positions are immediately spelled out in the book’s introduction, in which the author’s contrasting views on sovereignty and self-determination are carefully outlined. For Van der Vossen, there is a concern that the softening of sovereign non-intervention has gone too far already and that any further expansions of a right to intervene would be unwise and undesirable. Consequently, for Van der Vossen, intervention is about more than protecting individual rights, it also concerns ideas of communal self-determination and the value of sovereignty as a stabilising feature of international order. He is further sceptical of the ability of intervention to improve conditions on the ground and suggests that intervention often makes matters involving individual rights far worse. In contrast, Tesón believes that the law is too protective of tyrants and thus norms need to move towards intervention permissibility, whereby sovereignty can never be a reason against intervention. In this sense, Tesón believes that what needs defending, through the actions of humanitarian intervention, are the rights of persons. It is this key point of contrast that ultimately frames the overall discussion, allowing each author to present a distinct response to the ethical challenges presented by humanitarian intervention.