A Need for a Global Ethics of Humanitarian Intervention by the United Nations

By Berdal Aral.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: January 23, 2015 $US5.00

This paper, drawing on the ethics of legally valid humanitarian interventions as an important aspect of globalization which refer to the military operations originating in and conducted within the UN Security Council framework since the end of the Cold War in cases when, first and foremost, massive human rights violations are committed by a state against its people. The whole debate centres on the main ethical principles on which humanitarian intervention should be based. It argues that UN authorised military action on grounds of "humanitarian intervention" is justifiable when a humanitarian crisis within a state is, first, morally abhorrent; second, politically undesirable; third, legally untenable; and, fourth, damaging to the fabric of international society and public order. To speak of "humanitarian intervention" as a well-established doctrine of international law, military operations anchored in humanitarian intervention should meet the following requirements which are indispensable from both legal and ethical stand points: first, the resolution enjoining military action should not be obtained as a result of intensive bargaining among UN Security Council member states reflecting "high" national interests; second, such military action should be consistent with the Security Council’s handling of previous crisis; third, there has to be a reliable congruence between the goals of humanitarian intervention and the means deployed for that purpose. This paper will look into a selection of cases, commonly referred to as "humanitarian intervention," such as the military action in Haiti in 1994 and the military intervention of 2011 in Libya.

Keywords: Humanitarian Intervention, Global Ethics, UN Security Council

The Global Studies Journal, Volume 8, Issue 2, June 2015, pp.11-21. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: January 23, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 496.640KB)).

Prof. Berdal Aral

Lecturer, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Political Science and International Relations, Şehir University, Istanbul, Turkey

Prof. Berdal Aral is a lecturer at Şehir University, Istanbul, concentrating on international law. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Glasgow in 1994. His has published two books in Turkish in 1999 and 2010 respectively, “Uluslararası Hukukta Meşru Müdafaa Hakkı” (Right of Self Defence in International Law) and “Üçüncü Kuşak İnsan Hakları Olarak Kolektif Haklar” (Collective Rights as Third Generation Human Rights). He also edited “The Geopolitical and Economic Transition in Eurasia: Problems and Prospects” in 2004 (together with Vildan Serin and Hızır Murat Köse). Among his publications are: "The Idea of Human Rights as Perceived in the Ottoman Empire," in Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 2, May. 2004; "An Inquiry into the Turkish 'School' of International Law," in The European Journal of International Law, Vol. 16, No. 4, Oct. 2005; “Turkey in the UN Security Council: Its Election and Performance” in Insight Turkey, Vol. 11, No. 4, Nov. 2009; “An Inquiry into the ‘Effective’ United Nations Security Council Resolutions Relating to the Middle East within the Past Decade,” The Muslim World, Vol. 102, April 2012.


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