chapter  1
16 Pages

Introduction: Humanitarian intervention and the responsibility to protect

Beginning in April 1994 and lasting for ninety days, Tutsis and moderate Hutus became the victims of a systematic genocidal campaign that resulted in 800,000 deaths in Rwanda. In July 1995, with United Nations (UN) peacekeepers present, 8,000 Bosnian men and boys were massacred in the safe haven of Srebrenica over a few days. In March 1999, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) started a bombing campaign against the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to protect the Albanian population in Kosovo from being ethnically cleansed. While the first two examples epitomize the lack of reaction in the face of atrocities, NATO’s military action in Kosovo was portrayed as illegal. NATO’s actions were morally justified yet violated international law, as the UN Security Council had not authorized the military intervention. The above examples of intra-state violence illustrate unimaginable humanitarian consequences resulting from conflicts brought by the end of the Cold War. The horrors of the twentieth century, however, go beyond the mass killings of the 1990s, as suggested by the Holocaust during World War II, and the killing fields of Cambodia during the tyrannical Khmer Rouge rule, when up to two million people were slaughtered between 1975 and 1979. These horrors were not confined to the less developed parts of the world, but affected both North and South. However, an agreed normative foundation for dealing with such crises seemed to be missing.