Humanitarian Intervention and Sovereignty Under the Umbrella of Geo-Politics

20 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2013

See all articles by Amos N. Guiora

Amos N. Guiora

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Date Written: 2013


The events of the Arab Spring and subsequent developments in Libya and Egypt raise profound questions regarding the tension between international humanitarian intervention and state sovereignty in the context of geo-politics. In examining this tension, it is necessary to understand overarching geo-political considerations regarding issues critical to understanding international relations and international law in a paradigm best described as "murky". This murkiness applies to facts on the ground and the legal and policy questions confronting decision makers, both regionally and globally.

One of the practical results -- or fall-outs -- of dramatic regime change is the need to identify new, key decision makers and their inner circles, develop new information and intelligence sources, and understand the relationship between the new civilian leadership and the national security establishment.

This is an issue that confronts world leaders daily, requiring assessment of possible actions by a government that recently replaced a deeply entrenched regime that ruled with an iron hand, but whose commitment to international obligations was unquestioned. Both paradigms raise legitimate concerns regarding the relationship between sovereignty, intervention, and geo-politics. The Syrian dilemma is tangible and immediate, whereas the Egyptian paradigm is suggestive as a hypothetical. Therefore, this Essay focuses on humanitarian intervention -- or lack thereof -- in the face of extraordinary human rights violations.

Keywords: Syria, Arab Spring, international humanitarian intervention, state sovereignty, geo-politics, human rights violations

Suggested Citation

Guiora, Amos N., Humanitarian Intervention and Sovereignty Under the Umbrella of Geo-Politics (2013). University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law, Vol. 34, No. 2, 2013, University of Utah College of Law Research Paper , Available at SSRN:

Amos N. Guiora (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States
801-581-4295 (Phone)
801-581-6897 (Fax)


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