"Humanitarian" intervention in the world after God

Dr Masataka Yasutake (Visiting Scholar, Department of Social and Political Science, Wolfson College)

Saturday, 02 December, 2000; 7:30-9:30pm

Erasmus Room, Queens' College

It has been discussed, esp. after the Cold War era, whether it is necessary to justify the use of force by states within the sovereign jurisdiction of another state in order to prevent the brutal coercion of groups of the latter's subjects, for example "the ethnic cleansing" in Yugoslavia. NATO and the US affirmed that the behavior of Slobodan Milosevic was the same as that of Adolf Hitler, so that they must give priority to "human rights" over the principles of the international law, such as, equality of sovereignty or non interference in the domestic affairs of another nation. They said there was no other way to avoid repeating that tragedy otherwise.
However could such "humanitarian" bombing contribute to stopping the anti-humanitarian actions? Certainly Milosevic yielded to NATO. But after the bombing, a number of Serbian people in Kosovo became refugees or were killed by the Albanian army in turn. In Yugoslavia today we continue to see anti-humanitarian acts.
Does the concept of "human rights" become fully accepted as an authority in international politics? Why can one employ this concept for justifying the use of force towards the other's violence? In this paper, from the viewpoint of my subject matter of the history of European political ideas, I shall present some logic vindicating the use of force, for example, the resistance theory of John Locke and the "just war" theory. I will then discuss the political dilemma of "humanitarian" intervention.