Humanitarian Intervention and Beyond: Introduction

  • Jan Nederveen Pieterse
Part of the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague book series (ISSTH)


No doubt humanitarian intervention is one of the most controversial questions in international politics today. It has been generating more front page news than any issue over recent years. Bosnia, Haiti, Rwanda, Somalia and Zaire are all sharply etched in our minds. It is not sufficient to consider humanitarian intervention from conventional points of view for what is most challenging about it is the way in which it both recycles and transcends realpolitik and conventional wisdom. Humanitarian action confronts us with the dilemmas of international relations in the age of globalization. The difficulties are not merely those of policy but of paradigms. The conflicts of recent times and the way they are perceived and handled are not merely business as usual — just small wars in the periphery, a situation which, as for instance Fukuyama (1992) predicted, would be likely to continue; nor are the ensuing interventions and their claim to humanitarian aims simply realpolitik by another name. What is at issue is the changing global architecture, including the architecture of states, the nature of politics, the role of armies and the meaning of sovereignty. Furthermore, different social forces are involved than in the past. The growing role of NGOs and the informalization’ of politics introduce a different ethos, different practices and organizational cultures.


Conflict Resolution International Relation Security Council Humanitarian Intervention Humanitarian Action 
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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© Institute of Social Studies 1998

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  • Jan Nederveen Pieterse

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