The Evolving Legitimacy of Humanitarian Interventions
Debates about humanitarian action in complex emergencies raise fundamental problems about the protection of human rights under international law. As UN peacekeeping missions become increasingly more complex and multifaceted, for example, they face accountability deficits. Many of the largest UN missions have authority under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to use force to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence. This raises a number of issues related to the UN’s negative and positive obligations under international law. The UN Charter itself contains no express basis for peacekeeping, which has developed in an ad hoc manner in response to different crises. Some States have also acted outside the framework of the UN Charter justifying military action in the name of ‘humanitarian intervention’. This paper explores some of the principled and practical dilemmas related to the extraterritorial protection of civilians through both unilateral and multilateral action within the framework of international law. Original in English.
Received in May 2013. Accepted in October 2013