The Legitimacy of Humanitarian Intervention: A Moral Perspective


Since early 1990s the society of states had resorted to the application of armed force in a number of occasions to stop systematic, flagrant and widespread violations of human rights and humanitarian law in what was colloquially called "humanitarian intervention." Despite the fact that some military interventions succeeded, humanitarian intervention provokes controversy. Skepticism is always about the question of whether it is legitimate to use armed force in such circumstances. Drawing upon Thomas Aquinas’s doctrine of just war, the article addresses the question of when humanitarian intervention is justified. The inquiry begins with the description of the meaning of humanitarian intervention. The notion of "legalist paradigm," along with the significance of the United Nations Charter, is examined afterwards. An account of the changing nature of conflict and the idea of "military humanitarianism" follows and, at the same time, precedes a section devoted to the analysis of Aquinas’s doctrine of just war. The article concludes with the scrutiny of the legitimacy of humanitarian intervention in the context of Aquinas’s moral theory of war, its present understanding and relevant political, legal and moral circumstances.

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