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Humanitarian Intervention: the Contemporary Debate

  • Oliver Ramsbotham

Abstract

The question of humanitarian intervention is not a new one. It can be traced back in recognisably modern form to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and, in particular, to the writings of Victoria (1532), Gentili (1598) and Grotius (1625). It emerged as part of a wider process which saw the early development of modern international law at the time of the break-up of Christendom, the voyages of discovery and beginning of European overseas empires, and the evolution of the early modern state. In the centuries that followed, a number of other conceptual developments took place which have cumulatively served to define the issue in the form in which we find it today, above all, the articulation of the nonintervention norm from the eighteenth century, and the assertion of the principles of popular sovereignty and self-determination from the time of the American and French Revolutions. The debate was fully joined in the nineteenth century, particularly in relation to interventions by Western powers in the collapsing Ottoman Empire, and re-emerged unresolved in the twentieth century. Since 1945 the legal-political framework has been provided by the Charter of the United Nations. The significance of the issue today can best be brought out by setting it against this historical background.

Keywords

Security Council Humanitarian Intervention International Politics Carnegie Institute International Order 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Macmillan Press Ltd 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oliver Ramsbotham

There are no affiliations available

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