New Publication: “Human Rights and Humanitarian Intervention”

Norbert Frei, Daniel Stahl and Annette Weinke (eds.), Human Rights and Humanitarian Intervention. Legitimizing the Use of Force since the 1970s, Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen 2017.

The Balkan Wars of the 1990s, the Rwandan genocide and the Darfur conflict served as catalysts for debates which significantly changed the character and institutional frameworks of international politics and international law after the end of the Cold War. Humanitarian emergencies and grave human rights violations came to range among the most powerful arguments to justify military interventions abroad. In the course of these debates international norms and principles as those of sovereignty and the prohibition of the use of force were renegotiated.
This volume situates the history of post-Cold War humanitarian intervention within the larger history of the twentieth century by looking at political and cultural shifts that preceded the end of the bipolar world order. At the same time, it seeks to elucidate the specificities of interventionism during the 1990s – a moment when, for the first time, military interventions were being justified on the basis of the protection of human rights. The authors examine the role of a wide range of actors like governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental actors like NGOs, the media, and public intellectuals.

In my own contribution “Protecting Universal Rights through Intervention. International Law Debates from the 1930s to the 1980s” I examine how the protection of human rights  became linked with policies of military intervention and international law during the course of the twentieth century. Experts on international law from around the world played an important role in this development. As early as the 1930s and 1940s, prominent legal scholars such as André N. Mandelstam and Hersch Lauterpacht began to examine the idea of international intervention on behalf of human rights, arguing in favor of the development of a mechanism to protect these rights. In the mid-1960s, these debates were given fresh impetus by the adoption of two UN human rights covenants in 1966 and the first International Conference on Human Rights, held in Tehran as part of the 1968 International Year of Human Rights. These debates were also taken up by important organizations such as the International Law Association (ILA), and also featured prominently in scholarly articles and in-house research projects carried out by organizations such as the Procedural Aspects of International Law Institute. Last but not least, this heightened interest was also expressed in the form of direct petitions and suggestions for reform made to the United Nations. Rather than emerging suddenly after 1989, I argue that the concept of humanitarian intervention was instead the outcome of a longstanding and complex process.

Table of Contents:

Daniel Stahl / Annette Weinke
Intervening in the Name of Human Rights.
On the History of an Argument

I. Politics of Interventionism

Bronwyn Leebaw
Legitimating Interventions.
Humanitarianism and Human Rights

Eleanor Davey
The Language of ingérence.
Interventionist Debates in France, 1970s – 1990s

Jan Eckel
Humanitarian Intervention as Global Governance. Western
Governments and Suffering »Others« before and after 1990

II. Intellectuals and Social Sciences

Julian Bourg
From the Left Bank to Libya.
The New Philosophy and Humanitarianism

Robert Albro
Culture’s Iron Cage. U.S. Anthropology, Human Rights,
and the Recalcitrant Defense Intellectual

III. Interventionism and the Media

Matthias Nass
Halabja, Rwanda, Srebrenica.
The Media and the Case for Interventionism

Andrea Böhm
From Success to Crisis. Human Rights and the Transformation
of the Media since the Late Twentieth Century

Patricia Daley
Celebrities, Geo-Economics, and Humanitarianism.
The Significance of Racialized Hierarchies

IV. International Law

Fabian Klose
Protecting Universal Rights through Intervention.
International Law Debates from the 1930s to the 1980s

Oliver Jütersonke
Responsibility to Protect and Tû-Tû Concepts.
A Legal-Realist Contribution

Gerd Hankel / Claus Kress / Annette Weinke
The Slow Pace of International Law. A Conversation
about the Past and Future of Humanitarian Intervention


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