'And with Success Comes Pardon Hand in Hand': Some Essential Features of R2P and Humanitarian Intervention Drawn from History of International Law
62 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2014 Last revised: 16 Jan 2016
Date Written: March 23, 2014
Humanitarian intervention and R2P are two concepts intimately related and yet so far apart. R2P seems to be a concept without history and all about the future, while humanitarian intervention appears to be all history and with not future. At the same time, the impression is given that the humanitarian intervention community and the R2P community are speaking essentially about the same thing using a different language. How to bridge this communicational gap? It is to be shown here that both concepts can be brought together by the adoption of a historical perspective. Thereby it becomes clear that R2P has a far longer history than commonly held, even though the terminology was widely different. On the other hand, many elements of the idea of humanitarian continue to live on in the concept of R2P. It will be shown that the present idea of protection is not only the result a discussion lasting a little bit more than a decade but finds its roots in ancient history. What has changed is the way we define a community, how we develop a feeling of belonging and how human beings find the resolve to intervene in favour of others. These changes have to do with fundamental alterations in the relationship between the individual and society as a whole as well as with broader technological modifications that contribute to make the international human society a real life experience. Behind all these mutations in human society an array of truths become apparent if we look at specific situations in which men intervened in favour of other people abroad. If we look far back at such situations we see that the present discussion about the need for intervention and its limits has a long history. We see that next to no problem that haunts the relevant discussion today is really new and the same is true for the solutions proposed. The relevant discussion presents a surprising modernity and this is not only the case for academic writings of the 19th century but also for a variety of contributions that date back to the Middle Ages and even to ancient history.
Keywords: Responsibility to Protect; International Law; humanitarian intervention; History of International Law; crimes against humanity; genocide
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation