Prospects for Humanitarian Uses of Force

Christian J. Tams

in Realizing Utopia

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199691661
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738593 | DOI:
Prospects for Humanitarian Uses of Force

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How to strike a balance between the desire to restrict the availability of force and the need to protect human rights depends on the relative importance that a normative system accords to each of these values. The international legal system has adopted a rather differentiated approach that distinguishes between institutional and private uses of force, privileges certain values over others, and lives with grey areas of legal uncertainty. The international community has accepted that force can be used in two cases. To rescue nationals abroad and to provide military assistance to end colonial domination. International law does not recognize a right of states to forcible humanitarian intervention. Prospects for the future include, within the UN system, the organization might be able to make more frequent and more effective use of its existing competences; in addition, Council practice may help to develop agreed standards governing the auto-interpretation of equivocal mandates. Outside the UN system, the most likely scenario is that the international community will continue to reject humanitarian interventions while at the same time tolerating breaches in exceptional circumstances.

Keywords: use of force; human rights protection; international law; military assistance; humanitarian intervention

Chapter.  8229 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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