Closing the Gap between Legitimacy and Legality of Humanitarian Intervention: Lessons from East Timor and Kosovo
68 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2015
Date Written: 2002
This article aims to expose the gap between legitimacy and legality of humanitarian intervention and to provide criteria for determining the legitimacy of any intervention -- to aid both in assessing proposed interventions in future, and eventually in reforming the law to bring it closer to notions of legitimacy. Based on reactions to the interventions in Kosovo and East Timor, the most important factor determining the legitimacy of a decision to intervene is the rights and lives at stake in the target area. If the violations of human rights are sufficiently compelling, other factors will assist in validating the intervention, including multilateralism, U.N. support, and genuine prior attempts at reaching a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The existence of certain other "negative" factors (such as a history of a contradictory relationship with the target, or an inconsistent pattern of intervention in the past) will not necessarily preclude a legitimate intervention. However, this will depend in part on how the intervenor conducts the intervention, and whether the intervenor eventually stops the violations leading to the intervention.
Keywords: humanitarian intervention, Kosovo, East Timor
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