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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A reappraisal of humanitarian intervention Middleton, Kirsty Giselle


A new threat to international peace and security exists in the post Cold War years. The demise of the Cold War has brought chaos in its wake as ethnic and religious disputes engulf several regions of the world often resulting in humanitarian tragedies. The tumultuous developments of recent years have however, opened up new possibilities for international action and cooperation under the auspices of the United Nations. Consequently, a radical shift has taken place in the international community as recent humanitarian crises have not only compelled the United Nations to take a prominent role in world affairs but also a chance to expand the competence of the UN into areas previously regarded as being within the exclusive jurisdiction of member states. Moreover, the humanitarian crises of recent years have called for a reappraisal of the controversial doctrine of humanitarian intervention. This thesis explores the theoretical justifications to support the doctrine under the UN Charter and general international law and also offers a contemporary appraisal of the applicable norms in light of evolving conceptions of state sovereignty and non-intervention in internal affairs. The overall hypothesis is that not only is substantial change in the theoretical norms appropriate but that the operational capability of the United Nations to conduct a humanitarian intervention must also be reexamined in light of recent events. The remaining section of the thesis therefore considers how the United Nations can establish a more effective operational military capacity for future collective humanitarian interventions.

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