Just War or Just Peace?: Humanitarian Intervention and International Law

Paperback | October 1, 2001

bySimon Chesterman

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The question of the legality of humanitarian intervention is, at first blush, a simple one. The Charter of the United Nations clearly prohibits the use of force, with the only exceptions being self-defence and enforcement actions authorized by the Security Council. There are, however,long-standing arguments that a right of unilateral intervention pre-existed the Charter.This book, which won the ASIL Certificate of Merit in 2002, begins with an examination of the genealogy of that right, and arguments that it might have survived the passage of the Charter, either through a loophole in Article 2(4) or as part of customary international law. It has also been arguedthat certain `illegitimate' regimes lose the attributes of sovereignty and thereby the protection given by the prohibition of the use of force. None of these arguments is found to have merit, either in principle or in the practice of states.A common justification for a right of unilateral humanitarian intervention concerns the failure of the collective security mechanism created after the Second World War. Chapters 4 and 5, therefore, examine Security Council activism in the 1990s, notable for the plasticity of the circumstances inwhich the Council was prepared to assert its primary responsibility for international peace and security, and the contingency of its actions on the willingness of states to carry them out. This reduction of the Council's role from substantive to formal partly explains the recourse to unilateralismin that decade, most spectacularly in relation to the situation in Kosovo.Crucially, the book argues that such unilateral enforcement is not a substitute for but the opposite of collective action. Though often presented as the only alternative to inaction, incorporating a `right' of intervention would lead to more such interventions being undertaken in bad faith, it wouldbe incoherent as a principle, and it would be inimical to the emergence of an international rule of law.

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The question of the legality of humanitarian intervention is, at first blush, a simple one. The Charter of the United Nations clearly prohibits the use of force, with the only exceptions being self-defence and enforcement actions authorized by the Security Council. There are, however,long-standing arguments that a right of unilateral i...

Simon Chesterman is a Senior Associate at the International Peace Academy in New York

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:328 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.7 inPublished:October 1, 2001Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019925799X

ISBN - 13:9780199257997

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The Just War: The origins of humanitarian intervention2. The Scourge of War: Humanitarian intervention and the prohibition of the use of force in the UN Charter3. 'You, the People': Unilateral intervention to promote democracy4. The New Interventionism: Threats to international peace and security and Security Council actions under Chapter VII of the UN Charter5. Passing the Baton: The delegation of Security Council enforcement powers from Kuwait to Kosovo6. Just War or Just Peace? Humanitarian intervention, inhumanitarian non-intervention and other peace strategiesBibliography

Editorial Reviews

`Chesterman has written a tour de force that exposes the weaknesses of the arguments supporting a doctrine of unilateral humanitarian intervention in international society ... Chesterman rejects the claim that states have a legal right to act as vigilantes in support of Council resolutions,even if they believe that this is the only means to stop a genocide. The powerfully argued thesis of this scholarly work is that accepting this proposition in law is 'a recipe for bad policy, bad law, and a bad international order'.'International Affairs