A Reading List on: Humanitarian Intervention

Books in perspective: Flickr/darren 131

Proponents of humanitarian intervention argue that it responds to a fundamental moral imperative, the prevention of human suffering. The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) — which obliges states to protect their own populations and the rest of international community to hold to them to their word — was unanimously adopted at the 2005 UN World Summit and has become part of everyday diplomatic discourse.

Yet for all its moral urgency, critics point out that humanitarian intervention undermines the sovereignty especially of weak states and has imperialistic overtones.  Or, on the other hand, that it too often amounts to little more than empty rhetoric, offering little protection to the vulnerable.

Profound disagreements also exist about the proper application of R2P.  Russia invoked R2P in relation to Georgia, but the principle has yet been applied in the context of Sudan or Somalia.

This syllabus will introduce you to one of the most contentious topics in international politics.