Humanitarian Uses of Force

12 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2011

See all articles by Christian J. Tams

Christian J. Tams

University of Glasgow, School of Law

Date Written: March 9, 2011


Whether force can be used to further humanitarian causes, is one of the "perennial" questions of international law. This paper addresses it in a succinct way. It proceeds from the basis of the UN Charter regime and questions whether contemporary international law (within or outside the Charter) has come to accommodate humanitarian concerns, or ought to do so. This question has prompted much debate, notably under the rubric of ‘humanitarian intervention’. The subsequent considerations reflect on these debates, but adopt a broader approach that includes other humanitarian uses of force – resort to military violence with a view to protecting human rights of others – as well, notably UN-mandated interventions, armed struggles against colonialism and military operations to rescue nationals from abroad.

Suggested Citation

Tams, Christian J., Humanitarian Uses of Force (March 9, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Christian J. Tams (Contact Author)

University of Glasgow, School of Law ( email )

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