Legitimacy and Lawfulness of Humanitarian Intervention
in Michael Davis et al (eds), International Intervention in the Post-Cold-War World: Moral Responsibility and Power Politics (ME Sharpe Inc, 2004) 40–59
16 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2015
Date Written: 2004
The events of 1999 in Kosovo and East Timor provide an important opportunity to reflect on the practice of humanitarian intervention. In 2000, the Independent International Commission on Kosovo (Independent Commission) determined that NATO's war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) beginning in March 1999 was unlawful because it involved the use of force other than in accordance with the United Nations (UN) Charter and without UN Security Council authorization. The Independent Commission nevertheless considered the intervention to be legitimate for other reasons, and called for reforms to "address the growing gap between legality and legitimacy that always arises in cases of humanitarian intervention." This recommendation highlights the need to examine state practice and public reactions to that practice in order to determine what makes a humanitarian intervention legitimate, even when it is unlawful, and vice versa.
If we accept that in at least some circumstances humanitarian intervention is legitimate, it is possible to propose some criteria of legitimacy by looking at world reactions to the interventions in Kosovo and East Timor. In this chapter, I attempt to draw together the various strands of commentary on these two interventions in order to develop a framework to assess the legitimacy of interventions in order to develop a framework to assess the legitimacy of interventions that are proposed or conducted in the future, and to aid in the reworking of international law to bring lawfulness in line with notions of legitimacy.
Keywords: humanitarian intervention, Kosovo, East Timor
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