The theory and praxis of humanitarian intervention

Tsagourias, Nikolaos K. (1996) The theory and praxis of humanitarian intervention. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The aim of this thesis is to analyse the conceptual foundations of the doctrine of humanitarian intervention and scrutinise the pertinent practice within the identified lego-philosophical framework.

The present study is organised into three major sections. The first section contains the theory of humanitarian intervention and it has been subdivided into four chapters which represent the main legal theories. The pursued analysis is, thus, manifold. It proceeds with a theoretical appraisement of natural law, positivism, realism, and critical legal studies by presenting and evaluating their main dispositions, inadequacies and interrelations. Additionally, those trends in the practice of humanitarian intervention which coincide with the identified theoretical tenets are also appraised.

The thrust of the pursued analysis is, we hope, to rationalise the contradiction in legal doctrine which stems from the different philosophical stances adopted by legal theorists. These contradictions could be surmised in the antithetical poles of peace/justice; human rights/sovereignty.

The next section could be introduced as the praxis of humanitarian intervention and contains two chapters. Having identified the arguments and contradictions, two articles of the United Nations Charter which attempt to control the notion of humanitarian intervention by legal means are analysed; that is, Article 2(4) on the non-use of force and Article 51 on self-defence. The diversified effectuation of humanitarian intervention renders the identified contradictions and opposing theoretical trends more evident.

However, our aim is not merely to deconstruct the legal and philosophical milieu relating to humanitarian intervention but also to present a new framework for analysis. Consequently, the last two chapters contain our phronesis. They deal with the assumption of human dignity which transgresses the compartmentalisation of legal doctrine and its unreflective actualisation in the praxis of humanitarian intervention.

At this point, the aim of the present research is to substitute a sterile lego-philosophical dogmatism and to submit under scrutiny a vision whereby the critical parameters of any humanitarian action are evaluated and accounted for. This, we hope, consists of the innovative aspect of this research. The existing lego-philosophical approach to humanitarian intervention – negative or positive - suffers from an unreflective automation. The negative approach submits any relevant action to strictly defined criteria compliance with which is conditio sine qua non for legality. On the other hand, the positive approach encounters greater difficulties. It weighs any humanitarian action according to certain criteria but disguises its value choices within the legal context. The fear of incommensuration in legal argument invites indecisive and restrained attitudes.

In contradistinction, our approach entails an explicit aim of attaining human dignity which redirects our reflective nature towards distinguishing and deconcretising the manifold aspects which humanitarian actions contain. Instead of monolithic evaluations, one should see in any humanitarian action the values which are at stake and what should be done in order to ameliorate the situation.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: White, N.D.
Keywords: International law, Humanitarian intervention, Human rights, United Nations
Subjects: K Law > KZ Law of nations. Law of the sea. Space law
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Law
Item ID: 10916
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2009 17:48
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2016 13:32

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