Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Jennifer M. Welsh
Humanitarian intervention refers to coercive action, involving the use of military force, in the affairs of one state by another state, group of states, or international organization with the express purpose of addressing massive human rights violations or widespread human suffering. Two aspects of this definition are worth noting. First, humanitarian intervention is distinct from the broader category of “humanitarian action,” which might include a range of activities (both military and nonmilitary) designed to address humanitarian emergencies. Second, the explicit and most prominent purpose of the military action must be humanitarian—even if additional objectives are achieved through the use of force. There are alternative definitions of humanitarian intervention that attempt to narrow the concept still further. Most legal conceptions, for example, insist that the term humanitarian intervention encompasses only those coercive actions that do not involve the consent or invitation of the host country. However, in practice, this definition Humanitarian ...