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Table of Contents What is Humanitarian Intervention? Justifications of Humanitarian Interventions Justifying the War to the Troops Humanitarian Interventions and Realpolitik Analysis of Humanitarian Interventions and their Results UN Armed Forces Conclusions Reference List History of humankind is riddled with wars waged for various reasons. Since ancient times, nations and states fought one another over territory, resources, religion, traditions, and ideology (Thayer 2013). What all wars have in common is that in every single case, the initiators of the conflict find a justification for their actions. War is a grisly business, filled with murder, fire, and death. While there are certain people ready to wage war on payroll with no need to justify their actions to themselves or others, the majority of the population requires a righteous reason in order to accept and support the conflict. The leaders, rarely driven by morality in their conquest, realized the importance of justifying hardships of war to the troops and their nations. As humanity evolved, justifications took multiple forms. First, there were divisions based on territory and nationalism, followed by religious justifications, which were replaced by ideological wars and confrontations in the 20th century. After the fall of the USSR in 1991, the source of ideological tension between the East and the West disappeared. In the 21st century, wars and invasions are frequently named Humanitarian Interventions. While theoretically, the use of military force for a humanitarian purpose can be justified. In practice, humanitarian interventions frequently carry hidden agendas that distort the initial justification of the action and affect the result in a negative way. What is Humanitarian Intervention? McMahan (2010, p. 3) defines a humanitarian intervention as “military intervention in another state that is intended to stop one group within that state from brutally persecuting or violating the human rights of members of another group.” He states that these interventions, more often than not, target the existing government and its army. Thus, such an intervention is conducted without the consent of the state, and the country subjugated to intervention. The concept of humanitarian intervention resides on a postulate that, under certain circumstances, human rights violations can override the rights of states to govern themselves and deal with their own internal affairs. In theory, the UN must pass a resolution in order to justify the beginning of humanitarian military intervention in another country. In practice, however, certain countries allowed themselves to act with no regard for the resolutions and the UN Charter (The UN Charter 2017). One of the examples includes the invasion of Iraq by the US and its allies in 2003. Justifications of Humanitarian Interventions Based on McMahan’s article concerning humanitarian interventions, as well as on works of Kuperman (2014) and Pieterse (2016), it is possible to assemble a list of criteria which a situation needs to meet in order to justify humanitarian intervention. In addition, the intervening forces need to be held to a certain standard themselves, in order for the intervention to be called “humanitarian.” Cases of large-scale violations of human rights. The mass slaughter of people in Rwanda in 1994 is used as a staple example of a country in need of humanitarian intervention (Meierhenrich 2014). However, this criterion is debatable. How many people need to die at the hands of a particular government to declare an intervention necessary? Can other violations of human rights be used as a basis for humanitarian intervention? The UN charter answers this with the concept of “Responsibility to Protect,” however, in practice, it is referred to very rarely due to the ambiguity of the terms (Background information on the responsibility to protect 2016). Consent from potential beneficiaries of the intervention. In many situations where human rights are constantly violated, such as an event of a civil war, any military intervention from outside the country might be perceived as an invasion. The absolute absence of ulterior motives. Humanitarian intervention loses any moral justification if the side responsible for committing it has self-serving goals in mind. This usually reflects the number of civilian casualties, since if the intervention does not really care about saving lives, their strikes will be indiscriminate. Do more good than harm. In order for a humanitarian intervention to be justified, it has to have a positive result. In many situations, the results are hard to predict. This makes planning and justifying interventions even more difficult, as it is hard to guarantee its success. If a humanitarian intervention adheres to these four criteria, then it can be considered justified. However, while it is theoretically possible to imagine such a scenario, the realities of modern politics and humanitarian crises have very little in common with these theoretical concepts. Justifying the War to the Troops One of the problems that arise with the concept of humanitarian intervention is the justification of war to the soldiers that will participate in the operation. While soldiers are professional combatants, are trained to fight and are expected to give their lives in the line of duty, if need be, their duties and loyalties lay specifically to their respective countries (Petersen
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