NATO, Kosovo and ‘humanitarian intervention’

Paul Latawski and Martin A. Smith

in The Kosovo Crisis and the Evolution of a Post-Cold War European Security

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780719059797
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700631 | DOI:
NATO, Kosovo and ‘humanitarian intervention’

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The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's (NATO) use of military power against the government of Slobodan Milosevic of the former Yugoslavia over Kosovo has been among the most controversial aspects of the Alliance's involvement in South East Europe since the end of the Cold War. The air operations between March and June 1999 have been variously described as war, ‘humanitarian war’, ‘virtual war’, intervention and ‘humanitarian intervention’. Key features of the debates over NATO's employment of military power have been concerned with its legality and legitimacy (that is, the role of the United Nations and international law), its ethical basis, and its impact on the doctrine of non-intervention in the domestic affairs of states. The conceptual debates that have raged over these issues are important not only within the context of European security but more generally for their impact on the international system as a whole. This chapter examines these issues by exploring why NATO undertook military action over Kosovo, the kind of armed conflict that it engaged in, and whether such a resort to force can be justified.

Keywords: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation; military action; Slobodan Milosevic; former Yugoslavia; Kosovo; humanitarian intervention; legitimacy; United Nations; doctrine of non-intervention; armed conflict

Chapter.  10846 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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