Atrocities and the ‘Golden Age’ of Humanitarianism

Alex J. Bellamy

in Massacres and Morality

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199288427
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745430 | DOI:
Atrocities and the ‘Golden Age’ of Humanitarianism

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It is has become common to read that the end of the Cold War brought with it renewed concern for the protection of people from mass violence. In practice, international responses sometimes proved deficient. For this book, though, more important was the fact that although perpetrators of mass atrocities were more likely to face international criticism and punishment, international responses were not uniformly critical In at least two significant cases (Russia's wars in Chechnya and post-genocide massacres by the Rwandan Patriotic Front in Rwanda and Zaire/Democratic Republic of Congo), perpetrators of mass atrocities were still able to secure sufficient legitimacy and avoid condemnation and punishment. This chapter suggests that it was changes to the global context rather than new found commitments to human rights or civilian immunity that propelled changes that became evident in the 1990s. This also explains why that the transformation was less radical than sometimes suggested.

Keywords: humanitarianism; post-Cold War; Chechnya; Rwanda; Zaire/Congo

Chapter.  23287 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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