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date: 18 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Cross-border military intervention is a recurring feature throughout history. Often, geopolitical and commercial calculations were cloaked in the language of ‘humanitarian intervention.’ After decolonization, developing countries embedded non-intervention as a peremptory norm. Many tyrants then used sovereignty as a shield behind which to commit atrocities with impunity. When the North Atlantic Treaty Organization intervened to protect victims of Serbian atrocities in Kosovo, the Non-Aligned Movement denounced any right of humanitarian intervention. To reconcile the two competing imperatives, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty proposed the principle of the ‘responsibility to protect’ to permit UN-authorized protective interventions while consolidating a rules-based order. Although much improved, however, dilemmas remain about when and by whom force can be used inside borders to guarantee human protection.

Keywords: R2P, sovereignty, mass atrocities, humanitarian protection, humanitarian intervention, ICISS, human rights, use of force

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