Humanitarian Intervention and the Responsibility To Protect

Who Should Intervene?


Humanitarian Intervention and the Responsibility To Protect considers who should undertake humanitarian intervention in response to an ongoing or impending humanitarian crisis, such as found in Rwanda in early 1994, Kosovo in 1999, and Darfur more recently. The doctrine of the responsibility to protect asserts that when a state is failing to uphold its citizens' human rights, the international community has a responsibility to protect these citizens,including by undertaking humanitarian intervention. It is unclear, however, which particular agent should be tasked with this responsibility. Should we prefer intervention by the UN, NATO, a regional or subregional organization (such as the African Union), a state, a group of states, or someone else? This bookanswers this question by, first, determining which qualities of interveners are morally significant and, second, assessing the relative importance of these qualities. For instance, is it important that an intervener have a humanitarian motive? Should an intervener be welcomed by those it is trying to save? How important is it that an intervener will be effective and what does this mean in practice? The book then considers the more empirical question of whether (and to what extent) the currentinterveners actually possess these qualities, and therefore should intervene. For instance, how effective can we expect UN action to be in the future? Is NATO likely to use humanitarian means? Overall, it develops a particular normative conception of legitimacy for humanitarian intervention. It usesthis conception of legitimacy to assess not only current interveners, but also the desirability of potential reforms to the mechanisms and agents of humanitarian intervention.
  • OUP Oxford; February 2010
  • ISBN 9780191573132
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: Humanitarian Intervention and the Responsibility To Protect
  • Author: James Pattison
  • Imprint: OUP Oxford

In The Press

There is much to admire in Pattison's book. It gives us a systematic analysis of the problem of humanitarian intervention, moving easily from philosophical first principles to practical discussion of the logistics of intervention. Such breadth of approach seems to me essential if we are to gain a proper perspective on this most controversial of issues in international politics today.

About The Author

Dr James Pattison was previously a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of the West of England, Bristol. His research interests concern the moral issues raised when using military force abroad, including humanitarian intervention, the responsibility to protect, and the increased use of private military companies. His PhD on humanitarian intervention was awarded the Sir Ernest Barker Prize for Best Dissertation in Political Theory by thePolitical Studies Association. He has published various articles on the ethics of force, including for Ethics and International Affairs, the Journal of Military Ethics, the Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, the Journal of International Political Theory, the InternationalJournal of Human Rights, and the Journal of Social Philosophy. He is is a Lecturer in Politics (Specialising in Human Rights) at the University of Manchester.