Humanitarian Intervention Essay

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Should the UN legitimise humanitarian intervention?
Humanitarian intervention will not be required in Europe for the conceivable future. Consequently, applying an archaic framework of international relations, typically entrenched in European thought and ideals, onto the modern necessity and moral imperative of humanitarian intervention is foolish. The primary contestation is between the importance of sovereignty and basic human rights. The violation of sovereignty, especially of weak and historically exploited states, is an important concern. However, firstly, our notion of sovereignty needs to be adapted to the African/Asian context and progress beyond its current, out-dated, Westphalian conception. Secondly, when undertaken through the principles of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), as described by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty’s (ICISS) 2001 report, the benefits of intervention outweigh the importance of sovereignty (Evans et al., 2001: 69). Therefore, the United Nations legitimising the R2P is an important first step to a more prosperous Africa.
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The continent is subject to widespread poverty, food insecurity, extreme human rights violations, genocide and torture (Sarkin, 2008: 45). With nearly half of the 32 wars between 2004 and 2008 having occurred in Africa (Sarkin, 2008: 45). It is thus evident that Africa will be the context in which humanitarian intervention will be most likely, with the possible exception of Middle Eastern states. With Africa having been the epicentre of brutal colonialism caution is understandable whenever the violation of sovereignty is

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