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Humanitarian interventions - Should it be legal under contemporary international law?

Alderin, Maria LU (2018) JURM02 20182
Department of Law
Faculty of Law
Abstract
Humanitarian interventions is a well debated subject within international law. When it comes to the legality of humanitarian interventions the international community is divided and a lot of material regarding such interventions can be found. Unfortunately, the discussion rarely turns to the more important question: Should humanitarian interventions be legal under contemporary international law? That is the question that this thesis intend to answer. This will be done by studying two cases: The genocide in Rwanda 1994 and the NATO intervention in Kosovo 1999.

Humanitarian interventions can be defined in different ways depending on which factors one choose to apply. I have chosen to identify humanitarian interventions as interventions... (More)
Humanitarian interventions is a well debated subject within international law. When it comes to the legality of humanitarian interventions the international community is divided and a lot of material regarding such interventions can be found. Unfortunately, the discussion rarely turns to the more important question: Should humanitarian interventions be legal under contemporary international law? That is the question that this thesis intend to answer. This will be done by studying two cases: The genocide in Rwanda 1994 and the NATO intervention in Kosovo 1999.

Humanitarian interventions can be defined in different ways depending on which factors one choose to apply. I have chosen to identify humanitarian interventions as interventions done with the use of force against another sovereign state. There are of course other ways to intervene but intervening with the use of force stands in direct conflict with a jus cogens norm, the prohibition on the use of force found in article 2(4) UNCh. To be classified as a humanitarian intervention, the intervention has to be taken for humanitarian reasons. To count as humanitarian reasons there has to be a potential violation or a violation of fundamental human rights within the target state. The prohibition of torture, slavery and genocide is such fundamental human rights. Those human rights that if they are lost keeps an individual from enjoying all other rights is also fundamental human rights. For example the right to life would be a fundamental human right, on the other hand political and social human rights would not count as fundamental human rights in this regard. My definition of humanitarian interventions is as follows:

The use of force by a state (or group of states) against another state with the motive of preventing or ending widespread violations of fundamental human rights by the target state towards its nationals, without the consent of the target state or authorization by the UNSC.

The defined humanitarian interventions are illegal under contemporary international law because they are in breach of the prohibition on the use of force in article 2(4) UNCh. Neither the exception found in article 42 UNCh (The authorization of the UNSC) nor article 51 UNCh (The use of force in self-defense) is applicable to the defined humanitarian interventions. Such interventions does not fall under the concept of R2P either, since interventions under the concept of R2P has to have the pre-existing authorization by the UNSC.

In Rwanda 1994 the military and extremist civilians initiated a genocide of the minority population of Tutsis. In total around 800 000 individuals were killed in a brutal ethnic cleansing directed towards unarmed innocent civilians. At the same time the international community didn’t think that any intervention was needed and the UNSC was unable and unwilling to act with promptitude to prevent or stop the genocide. Kosovo in 1999, repression and massacres of Kosovar Albanians were being committed by Serbian nationals and the Serbian nationalistic leader Milosevic. NATO is determined that intervention is needed. Yet, such a decision can’t be taken in the UNSC due to the right to veto that the five permanent members of the council enjoys. Therefore, NATO decided to intervene with force, justifying the intervention on humanitarian grounds, without the pre-existing authorization by the UNSC or the target state, making the intervention illegal under contemporary international law.

Through the study of this two cases several risks and benefits with humanitarian interventions can be identified. There is a risk of abuse of the concept of humanitarian interventions in the form of interventions publically justified with humanitarian purposes but privately done for other reasons. This is shown through NATOs speedy intervention in Kosovo, a region were the political interest was huge, as well as through the non-intervention by the international community in Rwanda, despite the fact that the genocide in Rwanda was of much greater extent than the crisis in Kosovo. With humanitarian interventions there is also a risk of making the situation worse than it already is. Both through the fact that there is a risk of greater aggression from both sides of the conflict and through the fact that armed conflicts creates extreme migration flows that has a negative impact on neighboring countries. Humanitarian interventions are, as well, criticized by many for being inhumane in nature. Humanitarian interventions can save lives, but it also take lives. Inevitably, intervention with force kills not only soldiers but also innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. Humanitarian interventions, as defined here, also causes an infringement on state sovereignty. It makes the sovereignty of states conditional because it depends on it being in line with what other states think is morally right. To give the legitimate authority to states to decide when humanitarian interventions (and the use of force) should be initiated leads to an unequal sovereignty. There is, however, benefits with humanitarian interventions as well. Among other things it can circumvent the problem with the right to veto in the UNSC and enable states to act on their own when the UNSC can’t or won’t act. Apart from this the most important benefit is, of course, that a humanitarian intervention can save innocent lives in a large scale.

If we make humanitarian interventions legal the risk with such interventions exceeds the benefits. Within the international community the use of force always has to be the last resort and be used for the absolute right reasons. To preserve equal sovereignty between states and the general legitimate authority of the UNSC, the UNSC has to be the only legitimate authority. My conclusion is therefore that one should not change contemporary international law to make humanitarian interventions legal. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Humanitära interventioner är ett väl debatterat ämne inom internationell rätt. Det är ett ämne som väcker stora känslor och diskussioner bland jurister samt inom och emellan stater världen över. När det gäller legaliteten av humanitära interventioner finns det mycket material att tillgå, dock övergår diskussionen sällan i det som egentligen är viktigast: Borde humanitära interventioner vara lagliga inom den internationella rätten? Det är denna fråga som detta arbete syftar till att reda ut. Detta kommer att göras genom att studera två historiska händelser: NATOs intervention i Kosovo 1999 och folkmordet i Rwanda 1994.

Humanitära interventioner kan definieras på olika sätt beroende på vilka faktorer man ämnar att tillämpa. Jag har valt... (More)
Humanitära interventioner är ett väl debatterat ämne inom internationell rätt. Det är ett ämne som väcker stora känslor och diskussioner bland jurister samt inom och emellan stater världen över. När det gäller legaliteten av humanitära interventioner finns det mycket material att tillgå, dock övergår diskussionen sällan i det som egentligen är viktigast: Borde humanitära interventioner vara lagliga inom den internationella rätten? Det är denna fråga som detta arbete syftar till att reda ut. Detta kommer att göras genom att studera två historiska händelser: NATOs intervention i Kosovo 1999 och folkmordet i Rwanda 1994.

Humanitära interventioner kan definieras på olika sätt beroende på vilka faktorer man ämnar att tillämpa. Jag har valt att definiera humanitära interventioner på ett sätt som enbart innefattar interventioner gjorda med militära medel och väpnad kraft. Interventioner kan också genomföras genom ekonomiska sanktioner, diplomatiska påtryckningar osv. Jag har dock valt att bortse från sådana interventioner då syftet med denna uppsats är att utreda de interventioner som ses som allvarligast inom den internationella rätten, de som är gjorda med militär kraft och bryter mot förbudet i artikel 2(4) FN-stadgan om användandet av väpnad kraft mot andra stater. För att klassas som en humanitär intervention krävs det inte enbart att interventionen är gjord med väpnad kraft utan också att den är gjord av humanitära skäl. För att nå upp till detta krav krävs det att en stat har överträtt och brutit mot de mänskliga rättigheter som gäller enligt internationell rätt. Alla överträdelser av mänskliga rättigheter berättigar dock inte en väpnad intervention. Det måste vara en överträdelse av en mänsklig rättighet som är av ett grundläggande värde. Att tortyr, slaveri och folkmord är av ett sådant grundläggande värde står klart, dock anser många att sådana rättigheter som, om de går förlorade, gör att alla andra rättigheter ej kan åtnjutas, också är av grundläggande värde. Denna definition avgränsar humanitära skäl från att gälla exempelvis politiska och sociala rättigheter. Överträdelsen måste också vara av viss omfattning och riktas mot mer än bara ett få antal individer. Överträdelsen i sig måste dock ej ha inträffat innan interventionen, då humanitära interventioner är ämnade att vara förebyggande i sin natur. För denna uppsats syfte definieras humanitära interventioner enligt följande: Användandet av väpnad kraft av en stat gentemot en annan stat med motivet att förhindra eller stoppa överträdelser av grundläggande mänskliga rättigheter utförda av den staten gentemot dess invånare, utan att ha föregående tillåtelse av förenta nationernas säkerhetsråd eller av staten i sig.

De definierade interventionerna är olagliga under internationell rätt då de strider mot artikel 2(4) FN-stadgan som stadgar ett förbud mot användandet av väpnad kraft mot suveräna stater. Humanitära interventioner faller varken under undantaget i artikel 42 FN-stadgan (Föregående tillåtelse av förenta nationernas säkerhetsråd) eller artikel 51 FN-stadgan (Väpnad kraft använd i självförsvar). Humanitära interventioner som de är definierade här faller inte heller under begreppet the responsibility to protect, då en sådan intervention kräver föregående tillåtelse av förenta nationernas säkerhetsråd för att vara tillåten.

I Rwanda år 1994 genomförde militären och civila extremister från folkgruppen Hutu ett folkmord riktad mot minoriteten Tutsis, totalt dödades omkring 800 000 människor. Omvärlden tyckte inte att en intervention behövdes och förenta nationernas säkerhetsråd kunde inte agera tillräckligt fort och kraftfullt för att förhindra folkmordet. Kosovo 1999, förföljelse och mord på Albaner utförs av Serber. NATO är snabba att påpeka att intervention behövs för att förhindra en humanitär kris. Det råder dock oenighet i förenta nationernas säkerhetsråd och ett beslut om intervention kan ej tas pga. rätten till veto som de fem permanenta medlemmarna innehar. NATO genomför därför själv en väpnad intervention och berättigar denna med humanitära skäl, dock är interventionen olaglig under internationell rätt.

Genom att studera dessa två fall kan flera risker och fördelar med humanitära interventioner identifieras. Bland annat finns det en risk för interventioner berättigade av humanitära skäl men egentligen utförda av politiska skäl. Detta visas bland annat av NATOs snabba intervention i Kosovo, ett område där de politiska intressena var stora, och det internationella samfundets icke-intervention i Rwanda, trots att folkmordet i Rwanda var av mycket större omfattning än händelserna i Kosovo. Med humanitära interventioner följer också en risk att situationen i målstaten förvärras. Både genom att aggressionen ökar från båda sidor av konflikten men också för att väpnade konflikter skapar extremt stora migrationsflöden som i sin tur kan ha negativa följder även för intilliggande länder. Humanitära interventioner ifrågasätts också eftersom de av många anses vara inhumana i sin natur, detta eftersom de oundvikligen dödar både soldater och oskyldiga civila. Humanitära interventioner, som de är definierade här, inkräktar även på staters suveränitet då de gör suveräniteten av stater beroende av vad andra stater anser om deras beteende när det kommer till mänskliga rättigheter. Att ge stater auktoriteten att bestämma över användande av väpnad kraft leder också till att suveräniteten, som ska vara lika för alla stater, blir ojämn. Med humanitära interventioner följer också en del fördelar. Bland annat kan de kringgå problematiken med veto-rätten i förenta staternas säkerhetsråd samt kan en legalisering av humanitära interventioner göra att stater kan agera på egen hand när förenta nationernas säkerhetsråd inte kan eller vill agera. Förutom detta så är den viktigaste fördelen att humanitära interventioner kan rädda oskyldiga liv i en stor skala.

Om vi gör humanitära interventioner lagliga så överskrider riskerna de fördelar jag har identifierat. Inom det internationella samfundet måste väpnad kraft alltid vara en sista utväg och användas av rätt anledningar. Förenta nationernas säkerhetsråd måste vara den enda auktoriteten, detta för att bevara suveräniteten mellan stater samt rådets auktoritet generellt sätt. Man borde alltså inte ändra internationell rätt och göra humanitära interventioner lagliga. (Less)
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author
Alderin, Maria LU
supervisor
organization
course
JURM02 20182
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Public international law, Humanitarian interventions, Human rights, Responsibility to protect
language
English
id
8964994
date added to LUP
2019-01-28 11:39:51
date last changed
2019-01-28 11:39:51
@misc{8964994,
  abstract     = {Humanitarian interventions is a well debated subject within international law. When it comes to the legality of humanitarian interventions the international community is divided and a lot of material regarding such interventions can be found. Unfortunately, the discussion rarely turns to the more important question: Should humanitarian interventions be legal under contemporary international law? That is the question that this thesis intend to answer. This will be done by studying two cases: The genocide in Rwanda 1994 and the NATO intervention in Kosovo 1999. 

Humanitarian interventions can be defined in different ways depending on which factors one choose to apply. I have chosen to identify humanitarian interventions as interventions done with the use of force against another sovereign state. There are of course other ways to intervene but intervening with the use of force stands in direct conflict with a jus cogens norm, the prohibition on the use of force found in article 2(4) UNCh. To be classified as a humanitarian intervention, the intervention has to be taken for humanitarian reasons. To count as humanitarian reasons there has to be a potential violation or a violation of fundamental human rights within the target state. The prohibition of torture, slavery and genocide is such fundamental human rights. Those human rights that if they are lost keeps an individual from enjoying all other rights is also fundamental human rights. For example the right to life would be a fundamental human right, on the other hand political and social human rights would not count as fundamental human rights in this regard. My definition of humanitarian interventions is as follows: 

The use of force by a state (or group of states) against another state with the motive of preventing or ending widespread violations of fundamental human rights by the target state towards its nationals, without the consent of the target state or authorization by the UNSC.

The defined humanitarian interventions are illegal under contemporary international law because they are in breach of the prohibition on the use of force in article 2(4) UNCh. Neither the exception found in article 42 UNCh (The authorization of the UNSC) nor article 51 UNCh (The use of force in self-defense) is applicable to the defined humanitarian interventions. Such interventions does not fall under the concept of R2P either, since interventions under the concept of R2P has to have the pre-existing authorization by the UNSC.

In Rwanda 1994 the military and extremist civilians initiated a genocide of the minority population of Tutsis. In total around 800 000 individuals were killed in a brutal ethnic cleansing directed towards unarmed innocent civilians. At the same time the international community didn’t think that any intervention was needed and the UNSC was unable and unwilling to act with promptitude to prevent or stop the genocide. Kosovo in 1999, repression and massacres of Kosovar Albanians were being committed by Serbian nationals and the Serbian nationalistic leader Milosevic. NATO is determined that intervention is needed. Yet, such a decision can’t be taken in the UNSC due to the right to veto that the five permanent members of the council enjoys. Therefore, NATO decided to intervene with force, justifying the intervention on humanitarian grounds, without the pre-existing authorization by the UNSC or the target state, making the intervention illegal under contemporary international law. 

Through the study of this two cases several risks and benefits with humanitarian interventions can be identified. There is a risk of abuse of the concept of humanitarian interventions in the form of interventions publically justified with humanitarian purposes but privately done for other reasons. This is shown through NATOs speedy intervention in Kosovo, a region were the political interest was huge, as well as through the non-intervention by the international community in Rwanda, despite the fact that the genocide in Rwanda was of much greater extent than the crisis in Kosovo. With humanitarian interventions there is also a risk of making the situation worse than it already is. Both through the fact that there is a risk of greater aggression from both sides of the conflict and through the fact that armed conflicts creates extreme migration flows that has a negative impact on neighboring countries. Humanitarian interventions are, as well, criticized by many for being inhumane in nature. Humanitarian interventions can save lives, but it also take lives. Inevitably, intervention with force kills not only soldiers but also innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. Humanitarian interventions, as defined here, also causes an infringement on state sovereignty. It makes the sovereignty of states conditional because it depends on it being in line with what other states think is morally right. To give the legitimate authority to states to decide when humanitarian interventions (and the use of force) should be initiated leads to an unequal sovereignty. There is, however, benefits with humanitarian interventions as well. Among other things it can circumvent the problem with the right to veto in the UNSC and enable states to act on their own when the UNSC can’t or won’t act. Apart from this the most important benefit is, of course, that a humanitarian intervention can save innocent lives in a large scale. 

If we make humanitarian interventions legal the risk with such interventions exceeds the benefits. Within the international community the use of force always has to be the last resort and be used for the absolute right reasons. To preserve equal sovereignty between states and the general legitimate authority of the UNSC, the UNSC has to be the only legitimate authority. My conclusion is therefore that one should not change contemporary international law to make humanitarian interventions legal.},
  author       = {Alderin, Maria},
  keyword      = {Public international law,Humanitarian interventions,Human rights,Responsibility to protect},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Humanitarian interventions - Should it be legal under contemporary international law?},
  year         = {2018},
}