The term ‘humanitarian intervention’ is a rather unfortunate recent coinage. It refers to circumstances where one state or a coalition of states intervenes by force in the supposedly domestic affairs of another state ostensibly in the interests of the population of the latter, for example to prevent or curtail genocide or other gross violations of their human rights. It is unfortunate because, apart from the fact that the adjective ‘humanitarian’ in itself raises all sorts of issues that will be addressed later in this chapter, it directs attention towards the motives of the intervener as the key defining quality of this kind of action, with the implication that unless the intervening states are pure at heart the intervention in question will not count as properly humanitarian. Since, ex hypothesi, states almost always act for a variety of reasons, some altruistic, most not, this kind of purism generally leads to the conclusion that no humanitarian interventions have taken place, and that the claim of such motivation always hides some darker intent. This way of looking at the issue is, I think, mistaken. From the point of view of the victims of genocide or other forms of serious oppression, the motives of their rescuers are not a matter of immediate importance – to take one obvious example, had the French or US governments acted effectively to end the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, it seems unlikely that those whose lives had been saved thereby would have worried too much about exactly why their rescuers acted. In such extreme cases outcomes are what matter rather than intentions; indeed, in this particular case it was precisely because any US action would have had to have been motivated by altruism, since it had no substantial material interests in Rwanda, that no such action took place.2