Between intervention and indifference : the ethics of humanitarian intervention / by Shannon Anne Shea.
This dissertation analyzes the possibility of a morally compelling argument for the necessity of conducting humanitarian interventions in cases of genocide and massive human rights violations. After the humanitarian disasters of Rwanda and Kosovo the question of intervention must be raised anew. In these cases, as well as many others, people were left to die at the hands of their fellow citizens when others, seemingly for no moral reason, were rescued and allowed to live. The victims of Rwanda and Kosovo should have been protected. The explanations offered in defense of this failure present us with a host of contradictions.The most significant contradiction is that the rights of sovereign states conflict with human rights. In analyzing this conflict, different defenses of humanitarian intervention are examined. Each is found to be lacking in something important. Moreover, none provide an argument that not only permits, but requires humanitarian intervention of an appropriate agent. Most often the failure to require humanitarian intervention is a result of the acquiescence by the authors to the so-called real world political situation. The implication of this acquiescence is that human beings are left to their fates because there is no one agent responsible for their protection. Under the current, state-centered, global order it is difficult to assign responsibility to an appropriate, sufficiently well-empowered agent. However, in light of the exigency of peace and stability for all people everywhere, and not just for states, I suggest that a restructuring of the understanding of the rights of sovereign states is in order. I argue, moreover, that a new kind of organization must be formed. It will be dedicated to the protection and promotion of humanity and its membership must not be composed of representatives of sovereign states. Rather, it would consist of democratically elected members whose allegiance is not to states but to the well-being of humanity. The organization would be autonomous and equipped with a small military force composed of volunteers. Its force would be capable of deploying rapidly to protect or defend populations under threat of genocide or gross human rights violations.
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