Humanitarian Definition

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Humanitarian action and human rights are intrinsically based on morals however these morals are culturally based. This raises issues in how there can be a ‘Universal’ declaration of human rights when human rights are totally subjective to the culture they are applied within. The American Anthropology Association (AAA) argues culture is imperative in the capacity for humanity (AAA, 1999). With morals and values being at the basis of the creation and production of culture, then the way in which rights and humanitarian interventions are justified and played out is largely reliant on the cultural context. Thus this essay will argue human rights and humanitarian intervention cannot be universal as they are intrinsically reliant on moral norms that …show more content…
The reason for this, as Chomsky argues, is due to ‘Wrong agency (as) it’s only Humanitarian Intervention when we do it.” (Chomsky, 2013) By We he refers to the west. He also states the other issue is the U.S opposed these 2 movements. In this way it can be argued humanitarian intervention is almost an excuse or a reason as to why the West can do something the East can’t. The United States of America (USA) used their power to manipulate the world into believing what they are doing was right. When the NATO and the USA intervened to stop the Genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina this was considered humanitarian intervention, it was considered good, an act of heroism by the west. So why when Vietnam stopped the Khmer Rouge was it not considered a humanitarian intervention. It is because the US “bitterly opposed them and moved very quickly to punish those who had carried out the prime of ending these slaughters (Chomsky, 2013). The issue with this is it questions, firstly the idea there are universal rights and secondly questions the moral or cultural justification behind humanitarian intervention. Based on the USA’s response to the Bosnia-Herzegovina conflict, if this was entirely based on morals, then the same principals should have applied during the Khmer Rouge regime in which the USA should have, if not intervened themselves, then supported Vietnams intervention. This …show more content…
For human rights to be morally imperialistic shows that, firstly, it is accepted that they are based on morals. The way in which ideas are taken from the UDHR and applied in situations where they may not be appropriate can be more damaging that the original problem. Summerfield (1999) discusses the question of “whose knowledge is privileged and who has the power to define the problem?” How atrocities and the victims or survivors are framed is key to the way they are handled and UDHR creates this universal notion of how issues should be framed. If people are seen as being denied these basic rights they are instantly viewed as victims which can be powerful in terms of when intervention can be justified. Taking the example of Bosnia, it can be seen that humanitarian Intervention can be seen to be set in culturally based moral norms is those who humanitarian aid seeks to protect. Morally, in the West it is the vulnerable that we seek to protect thus the more vulnerable a victim seems the easier it is to justify intervention. Summerfield (1999) argues that, whilst Men had the most exposure to the war in Bosnia however it was Women who were primarily the targets of humanitarian aid programs. He goes on to argue this is because Women are more vulnerable and thus, whilst Women had been exposed to killings,

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