• Humanitarian Intervention in an Era of Pre-emptive Self -Defense

      Whitman, Jim R. (2009-05-18)
      The dichotomy between prohibitive law and moral responsibility is at the centre of debates about the legitimacy of humanitarian intervention. However, political interests remain an important factor not only in determining and tempering the humanitarian impulses of states, but also for gauging their more general adherence to the rule of law. The humanitarian intervention debate only has meaning in a context in which there is general, routine adherence to the non-interventionist norm of the international system, codified as Article 2(4) of the UN Charter. The `Bush Doctrine¿ of pre-emptive self-defence alters the political and politico-legal context that has until now given the humanitarian intervention debate its meaning and importance. Given this, together with a more general loosening of the strictures prohibiting or limiting the use of force, there is good cause for concern about the foundations of the post-1945 international order. The debate about humanitarian intervention can no longer abstract the tension between law and morality from a political arena that is facing such profound challenges.