Legitimizing intra-state military intervention on behalf of human rights
Steeves, Rouven J. G.
Yost, David S.
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Human rights have in recent years become a key justification for outside powers to intervene in conflicts within states. NATO's intervention in Kosovo in March to June 1999 is but one important example of this rationale. Despite the allied "victory," NATO's decision making was muddled and burdened by convoluted rhetoric and hesitancy and cannot serve as a model for any similar future engagements. It is out of the need to find a constructive way forward that the thesis argues for a rational course of action based on ideals but tempered with realism. International norms regarding state sovereignty, human rights, and intervention as propounded in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are discussed and critiqued. Kosovo is critically analyzed as a case study highlighting practical constraints and the need for reasserting clear definitions and guidelines that are philosophically well- grounded and legally viable. Philosophical obstacles to achieving clarity and formulating universal norms are briefly assessed. The thesis proposes a philosophical framework and norms that may well serve as the foundation for revised international guidelines. The conclusion argues for tempered international enforcement of clear and coherent guidelines that uphold specified, universally acknowledged human rights.
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