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Assessing the viability of humanitarian intervention as the shield for human rights: Case studies of Kosovo, Libya, and Iraq.

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On one hand, the end of the Cold War hatched new forms of wars and conflicts. On the other, oppressive regimes intensified their unromantic treatment towards their citizens, in so doing, misusing their sovereignty as the curtain behind which they hide their nefarious actions. It is through those wars and malicious actions by certain regimes that human rights are gravely violated. In an attempt to end those human rights violations, the international community through the United Nations Security Council employs humanitarian military intervention. However, there are heavy criticisms levelled against the effectiveness of humanitarian intervention as the shield for human rights. Moreover, the international community is divided into two, as those with the military and economic capacity to intervene deem humanitarian intervention as an effective mechanism to bring about an end to human rights violations and ultimately human suffering. However, on the other hand, weak states contradict that view, advancing the position that humanitarian intervention is just a Trojan horse through which powerful states pursue their nefarious agendas in weak countries. This research aims to assess the viability of humanitarian intervention as the shield for human rights. In assessing that effectiveness, it acknowledges the fact that, humanitarian intervention entails the employment of force. Therefore, argues that the employment of force is synonymous to war, as it involves life taking risks inconsequential of its magnanimity. However, this study does not ignore the fact that human rights are being violated virtually on a daily basis and therefore, there is a compelling need for the mechanism through which human rights ought to be shielded and humanitarian intervention is that mechanism in current international politics. But factors that influence humanitarian intervention as the shield for human rights tend to determine the effectiveness of the intervention in protecting the rights of the vulnerable populations. This assessment is pursued through examining case studies where intervention for humanitarian reasons was exercised. Moreover, factors that influence the carrying out of humanitarian military intervention are also examined. Among these factors, national interest takes priority, as it influences intervention in the most negative fashion and leads to more human rights violations. Eventually, this study closes by offering possible recommendations on how humanitarian intervention as the tool to shield human rights can be improved.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.