Evolution: intervention and humanitarianism from collective security to peacekeeping

Norrie Macqueen

in Humanitarian Intervention and the United Nations

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780748636969
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748672035 | DOI:
Evolution: intervention and humanitarianism from collective security to peacekeeping

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The origins of collective humanitarian intervention long pre-date the end of the Cold War. There are continuing arguments about not just what constitutes humanitarianism, but also the nature of ‘intervention’. The United Nations is empowered by its charter to apply economic and diplomatic pressures as a form of humanitarian intervention. The diplomatic isolation of errant states and the application of economic sanctions against them have long been weapons in the UN's non-military armoury. This chapter examines the beginnings of human intervention in Europe, from Westphalia to the new imperialism. It discusses the rise of the League of Nations, the beginnings of the UN, the role of the UN in the development of humanitarian law and practice as well as human rights, the failure of collective security and the rise of peacekeeping, and UN military intervention from the 1950s to the 1980s. It also explores the beginnings of humanitarian intervention in the Congo as well as the UN's alleged ‘anti-humanitarian intervention’ in West New Guinea.

Keywords: United Nations; humanitarian intervention; humanitarianism; Europe; League of Nations; human rights; peacekeeping; collective security; military intervention; West New Guinea

Chapter.  15891 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: International Relations

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