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"In extreme cases only": Humanitarian intervention in theory, law and practice

Eric A Heinze, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

This dissertation is about the use of military force by states for the purpose of halting or averting gross human suffering in other states—what is known in the literature as “humanitarian intervention.” The fundamental concern of this inquiry is with the level and severity of human suffering under which humanitarian intervention is appropriately undertaken. Building on relevant international normative theory and drawing from utilitarian moral theory, I first develop a theoretical framework that describes the level and severity of human suffering under which humanitarian intervention is most likely to promote human welfare rather than impede it. Given that military intervention itself imperils human welfare, the framework necessarily prescribes military intervention only under the most exceptional and extreme of humanitarian catastrophes. ^ I then conduct a broad survey of relevant international law in order to judge whether and to what extent international law dovetails with the framework I espouse. In other words, to what extent does international law consider the moral reality that only certain more severe atrocities are appropriate grounds for military intervention? I argue that the legal principle of universal jurisdiction considers this reality and thus provides a basis for humanitarian intervention within the normative framework of international law. ^ Finally, I conduct a series of case studies in order to explore the various real-world conditions under which humanitarian intervention is or is not permitted under the moral-legal framework. Cases under examination are humanitarian catastrophes in Haiti from 1991–94, the Sudan in 1998, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1997–2001. The study concludes with a discussion of the prospects for states and international organizations to adopt and adhere to the framework I have developed. ^

Subject Area

Political Science, International Law and Relations

Recommended Citation

Heinze, Eric A, ""In extreme cases only": Humanitarian intervention in theory, law and practice" (2005). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3176784.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3176784

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