International Organizations and NGOs

Humanitarian Intervention Criteria – TheUnited Nations was originally established to deal with international problems and was not authorized“to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state”(UnitedNations, 1945, art. 2.7).

During the 1990s, however,the world witnessed a number of domestic conflicts in which war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed, leading the UN to start changing its attitude toward intervention in domestic affairs. In 2001,the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty(2001)issued The Responsibility to Protect report. According to the report, when governments fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, they forfeit their right to sovereignty and the international community has the responsibility to step in and protect the population. The report also outlined the criteria that the international community should use to determine when and how to intervene in domestic affairs of countries, including large scale loss of life, when all other means have been exhausted, it must use reasonable means and have a reasonable chance of success, and the Security Council must authorize any interventions(for a full list of the criteria, see the last two pagesbelowcopied from the ICISS,2001). These criteria, however, have not been clear in their application. For example, what is considered large enough loss of life to justify an intervention? What are proportional means?What happens if members of the Security Council can’t agree? As a result of these unclear guidelines, the Security Councilauthorizeda military intervention in Libyain 2011 (United Nations, 2011) after fewer than 4,000 people had died, while it hasn’t yet authorized a military intervention in Syria even though over half a million people have died and many more have been displaced.

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For this assignment, you should establish a new set of guidelines that the UN Security Council should follow when authorizing a military intervention in domestic issues in countries where governments are committing violence against their own citizens(war crimes and crimes against humanity).You may modify the existingResponsibility to Protect criteria or you may come up with an entirely new set of guidelines.
Consider the following questions:

1.What types of domestic events should justify a military intervention by the international community?

2.At what point is the loss of life “large enough”to warrant a military intervention?

3.What other guidelines should the UNSC follow in deciding whether to intervene and how

4.Should these guidelines be applied uniformly to every country in the world? What obstacles would/could the UNSC encounter in applying these guidelines consistently?

5.What should happen if the five permanent members of the UNSC cannot agree?

6.What should happen if one of the five permanent members of the UNSC is committing crimes against humanity? For more information on International Organizations and NGOs visit:

International Organizations and NGOs


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