Humanitarian Intervention

Instructor: Rajan Menon
Offered by Macaulay Honors College
Tuesdays, 5:00 – 7:40pm
Macaulay Honors College, Classroom TBD

Mass atrocities against innocent people in Darfur, Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, Rwanda, Syria and elsewhere have raised a basic question: What, if anything, should the international community do in response?

The traditional answer has been that what occurs within countries is a matter for their own governments and that the longstanding principle of state sovereignty prohibits external interference. But following the end of the Cold War this statist view has been challenged by a new concept: humanitarian intervention. Proponents of humanitarian intervention concede that sovereignty does and must protect states from unjustifiable external interference. But they insist that sovereign governments also must respect universal human rights and protect their citizens from atrocities and that when states cannot, or will not, do so, the international community can rightfully intervene to stop the atrocities—militarily if necessary.

This seminar surveys the history and evolution of humanitarian intervention (as a principle and a practice), assesses its success and failures (by examining cases of mass atrocities), and explores why it has proved controversial and encountered opposition.

Preliminary syllabus available here.

Course Codes:

MHC 322 | CRN: 38014