Humanitarian Action in a Dangerous Term Paper

Pages: 9 (2550 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 12  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Military

[Author Unknown, A Gibbs Editorial, 2/24/03]

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On September 20, 2002 the U.S. Administration unveiled its new National Security Strategy. This document addresses the new realities of our age, particularly the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorist networks armed with the agendas of fanatics. The Strategy claims that these new threats are so novel and so dangerous that USA should "not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise its right of self-defense by acting preemptively." But in the discussion over the past few months about Iraq, the U.S. Administration often uses the terms "pre-emptive" and "preventive" interchangeably. In the realm of international relations, these two terms have long had very different meanings. Traditionally, "pre-emptive" action refers to times when states react to an imminent threat of attack. By contrast, "preventive" military action refers to strikes that target a country before it has developed a capability that could someday become threatening. Preventive attacks have generally been condemned. The Bush doctrine advocates pre-emptive action against Iraq. But what the Administration is really calling for is preventive war. The arguments for such a new National Security Strategy is that as a matter of self-defense, America will act against such of those emerging threats before they are fully formed. After September 11th the circumstances have changed and the world has become a more dangerous place to live. The Bush Administration's new National Security Strategy asserts that global realities now legitimize preventive war and make it a strategic necessity. Many strongly oppose such extreme doctrine as the Bush doctrine. [Sen. Kennedy Edward M. October 9, 2002]

Peace Building agenda

Following the 'Humanitarian Intervention', there should be a sustained peace building effort in order to assist the affected country to overcome the after effects of the human rights violations and get back to normalcy. The intervening nation should also make sure that the conditions that produced the crimes ceases to exist.

Term Paper on Humanitarian Action in a Dangerous Assignment

The peace building efforts should include extensive intergovernmental, regional, and private organizations and also international humanitarian organizations such as International Committee of the Red Cross, UNCHR etc. Collaborating with the political, humanitarian and sometimes military wings of powerful donor governments will also be involved.

Failures in the peace building processes in Bosnia, Somalia, and Rwanda and now in Iraq reveal that international organizations are faced with not only complex conflicts but superpower rivalry and lack of political will or speed. Paul Diehl in his book "The Politics of Global Governance" deals with the issue of peacekeeping after intervention. He elaborates on the political and state sovereignty issues in the light of peacekeeping success. In Chapter 9 of the book, he maintains that while superpowers have a great potential to do good or harm to peacekeeping, their actual influence has been overrated. According to Diehl's evaluation, once a peacekeeping operation is authorized, the internal characteristics of an operation generally have a minor impact on the mission's success. To minimize the risk of failure, he concludes that the most important elements for peacekeeping operations are non-aligned force composition, proper geographic position and a desire for peace by warring parties.

Regarding the question of the political and sovereignty during the initial authorization period of a peacekeeping operation the answer could be an operation headed and implemented by neutral parties which bypasses superpower or other countries' consent. [Diehl, Paul ed.]


The use of force to prevent widespread deprivations of internationally recognized human rights is a highly contested issue on many levels. Developing international consensus on criteria to guide such interventions, and in particular unauthorized interventions, will require extensive discussion and debate in a wide variety of forums with input from, among others, academics, diplomats, policy framers, and non-governmental organizations with expertise in the area. In addition, the use of military force in humanitarian crises is a strategy of last resort and should be discussed as one facet of many in a comprehensive and proactive approach to dealing with such crises.

There are indeed serious grounds to worry about the prospects of world peace if any nation were to claim an inalienable right to intervention.

On the contrary, to those who complain that the Western powers have been too eager to intrude in the internal affairs of sovereign nations, some say there has not been enough intervention. Firmer action by the international community in Bosnia would have stopped ethnic cleansing affecting millions and prevented some 200,000 deaths in Bosnia. In 1994, the United States vetoed any attempt to reinforce U.N. troops in Rwanda, leaving 800,000 to die on the altars of national sovereignty and Western indifference. In the cases of Cyprus, Western Sahara, East Timor, and the Occupied Territories, the United Nations should have intervened more forcibly.

Most proponents of humanitarian intervention see it as a tool to be used only very sparingly, and then only with the strictest safeguards against abuse by the unscrupulous (may be such as President Bush). There are not that many situations where the perils of intervention outweigh the benefits; arguments about when and where to intervene should not be about absolutist principles but about practical outcomes.

[Williams Ian 2003]


Work cited

1. Ramsbotham, Oliver and Woodhouse, Tom (1996), Humanitarian Intervention in Contemporary Conflict: A Reconceptualization, Polity Press, London.

2. Murphy, Sean D., (1996), Humanitarian Intervention: The United Nations in an Evolving World Order, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.

3. Danish Institute of International Affairs (1999), Humanitarian Intervention: Legal and Political Aspects, Submitted to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Denmark, December 7 (called the "Danish Institute Report").

4. Williams Ian (2003), Intervene with Caution, retrieved from the site accessed on Nov 26, 2003

5. Rieff David, (2002) A Bed for the Night. Simon & Schuster, New York

6. Kuperman Alan J (2001)The Limits of Humanitarian Intervention: Genocide in Rwanda The Brookings Institution; (May 30, 2001)

7. Author Unknown, (2003) A Gibbs Editorial, Preemption: A Bush doctrine that harms the children of this nation, retrieved from the site accessed on Nov 26, 200

8. Sen. Kennedy Edward M. October 9, (2002)," The Bush doctrine of Pre-Emption" from the site accessed on Nov 26, 2003

9. Diehl, Paul (ed.) The Politics of Global Governance

General References

10. Bull Hedley, (1995)… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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