Reading Humanitarian Intervention

Human Rights and the Use of Force in International Law


During the 1990s, humanitarian intervention seemed to promise a world in which democracy, self-determination and human rights would be privileged over national interests or imperial ambitions. Orford provides critical readings of the narratives that accompanied such interventions and shaped legal justifications for the use of force by the international community. Through a close reading of legal texts and institutional practice, she argues that a far more circumscribed, exploitative and conservative interpretation of the ends of intervention was adopted during this period. The book draws on a wide range of sources, including critical legal theory, feminist and postcolonial theory, psychoanalytic theory and critical geography, to develop ways of reading directed at thinking through the cultural and economic effects of militarized humanitarianism. The book concludes by asking what, if anything, has been lost in the move from the era of humanitarian intervention to an international relations dominated by wars on terror.
  • Cambridge University Press; June 2003
  • ISBN 9780511057403
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: Reading Humanitarian Intervention
  • Author: Anne Orford
  • Imprint: Cambridge University Press

In The Press

' … one of the many compelling aspects of Orford's book is her ability to generalise the central insistence of how a question, or set of choices, becomes framed in the international context … the pertinence to the discipline as a whole of understanding how a question comes to be asked is one of the reasons why Orford's book will deservedly have a committed readership well beyond scholars of international humanitarian law … Reading Humanitarian Intervention usefully teases out the relationship between law and power … situating Orford's work within a broader body of critical international law scholarship … timely and powerful.' Melbourne University Law Review