A Reading List on: Humanitarian Intervention

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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.

Recent Journal Articles

Precommitment Regimes for Intervention
Allen Buchanan
, Robert O. Keohane
Ethics & International Affairs
Vol. 25, no. 1, 2011

A Response to Precommitment Regimes for Intervention
Aidan Hehir
Ethics & International Affairs

Vol. 25, no. 1, 2011

The Antecedents of Sovereignty as Responsibility
Luke Glanville

European Journal of International Relations

Vol. 17, no. 2, 2011

A New Lease on Life for Humanitarianism:
How Operation Odyssey Dawn Will Revive RtoP

Stewart Patrick

Foreign Affairs

March 24, 2011

On Humanitarianism
Michael Walzer

Foreign Affairs

July/August, 2011

International Ethics and the Responsibility to Protect
Michael W. Doyle

International Studies Review

Vol. 13, no. 1, 2011

Other Essays

“April 2011 or April 1994?”
Steven Costello

Carnegie Council

April 1, 2011
“Libya’s Escalating Drama Reopens the Case for Liberal Intervention”
Timothy Garton Ash

The Guardian
March 3, 2011
“The Brutal Truth”
Stewart Patrick

Foreign Policy

July/August, 2011
“When to Intervene”
Scott Malcomson

New York Times

December 12, 2008

New and Upcoming Books

Armed Humanitarians: The Rise of the Nation Builders
Nathan Hodge;

Bloomsbury, 2011
Click here to read a review

Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism
Michael Barnett;

Cornell University Press, 2011
Click here to read a review

Humanitarian Intervention: A History
Brendan Simms;

Cambridge University Press, 2011
Click here to read a review

International Authority and the Responsibility to Protect
Anne Orford;

Cambridge University Press, 2011
Click here to read a review

Global Politics and the Responsibility to Protect
Alex Bellamy;
Routledge, 2011
Click here to read a review

The Responsibility to Protect: Norms, Laws and the Use of Force in International Politics
Ramesh Thakur;

Routledge, 2011
Click here to read a review

Books being taught*

Reading Humanitarian Intervention
Anne Orford

Cambridge University Press, 2003

Arguing about War
Michael Walzer
Yale University Press, 2004

Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society
Nicholas Wheeler

Oxford University Press, 2000

Humanitarian Intervention
Terry Nardin
& Melissa Williams
New York University Press, 2006

The Purpose of Intervention: Changing Beliefs about the Use of Force
Martha Finnemore

Cornell University Press, 2003

Humanitarian Intervention and International Relations
Jennifer Welsh

Oxford University Press, 2006

The Ethics and Politics of Humanitarian Intervention
Stanley Hoffmann
, Robert Johansen, James Sterba
University of Notre Dame Press, 1996

*Selected from Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.


Just and Unjust Wars
Michael Walzer

Perseus, 2000

State Sovereignty as Social Contract
Thomas Bierstecker
and Cynthia Weber
Cambridge University Press, 1996

The Law of Peoples
John Rawls

Harvard University Press, 1999

Political Theory and International Relations
Charles Beitz

Princeton University Press, 1979

Liberalism and the Limits of Justice
Michael Sandel
Cambridge University Press, 1998

The ISN’s own Digital Library contains further reading:

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