The use of military action by one state against another state with the publicly declared motive of military action for the elimination of human rights violation is called humanitarian intervention.  There is no such standard or a criterion that defines the term in its exact meaning. It is, in fact, swayed with respect to the field in which it is being analyzed. There are different distinctions in the way the term is defined;

  • In illustration, when the host state has not agreed for the act.
  • The intervention is only for the consideration of punishment.
  • Whether or not, it is limited to only instances where there is unambiguous UN Security Council’s authorization for action.

There is concurrence on a few characteristics of “humanitarian intervention”;

  • It engages intimidation along with the use of military power.
  • It is transcending into the state of affairs of a sovereign state, via entering its airspace or by land, which has not committed any act of violence.
  • The action is a result of a series of occurrences that do not inevitably pose any risk to nations but is instead aggravated by humanitarian purposes.

Humanitarian intervention has always been a debated subject in the foreign policy discussion, specifically since the intervention in Kosovo in 1999 by NATO, since it emphasis on the basic principle of a nations sovereignty (Holzgrefe & Keohane, 2003). This principle forms a basic pillar of UN system. It has also raised concerns regarding the morals of military force being used to protect human rights, how it should occur, who should conduct it and how effective it is. The frequent use of military force towards the end of the Cold War made many infer that probably a new regime of military humanitarian intervention would be seen in the future of international politics.


There are many individuals who are against war but are always at an exemption for the so-called humanitarian war, such as the one in Libya. Many even argue that the 9/11 attacks have ended the period of humanitarian intervention. The justification of this argument is that this war is implemented, not for personal and selfish reason, but for the interest of the human race.

There are not one but many reasons because of which humanitarian intervention or use of military force is not a brilliant idea. Some of the reasons are obvious; others come on the view later. They include;

  • Nations can wage war using humanitarian intervention as a cover with the true purpose of war hidden from the common man.
  • It results in killings of a number of innocent and their properties and belongings wither being damaged or lost altogether.
  • The fact cannot be denied that, at a certain time, there are a number of states involved in human rights violation, hence once stepping out for correcting this scenario in one state can lead to a never ending war story.
  • Above all, any sort intervention from a foreign power, will ultimately promote the idea of encouraging foreign intervention to solve national issues by the down trodden in a society, which means they will gradually and slowly lose all their sovereign integrity.


A strong support has been seen in view of addressing international issues in the form intervention in state affairs under certain circumstances, like ending the acts of violence, or when the inhabitants are victims of war.

Polls determine that populace prefers having international institutions that could intervene in states affairs. PIPA conducted surveys in 2004, in which they asked respondents to choose from two statements. First statement was international institutions should change what countries do inside to deal with global problems. 68percent respondents agreed to this. The second statement was that whatever a country does within its borders should not be of any concern to any international institution and should not be interfered. This statement was supported by only a mere 27 percent.

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“Terrorism: Empowering the UN in the War on Terror”, notes that an unnerving majority of the populace in America would prefer to hand over the UN Security Council extensive authority to interfere in any country’s state of affairs in order to cut down terrorist activities and the like. Nearly 75 percent of the populace says that if any state denies taking action against a terrorist group, UN should step in.

Similarly, PEW conducted a research in 2005 which depicted that approximately 69 percent respondents agreed that the US and other super powers in the West have implied moral and ethical duty to use humanitarian intervention if a certain group is obligating genocide against another group (Globalization, n.d).


International Relations have many theories, which involve in, the progress of conceptual structures to help in understanding and explaining the events in international politics. There are multiple theories in IR. Here, the “Balance of Power Theory” will be discussed.

Balance of Power Theory

This theory forecasts that the balance of power can result in swift changes in the international power and status scene. It will provoke counterbalancing acts, as well. Hence it is extremely serious the powers are balanced to avoid any instability between the states (Beavis, 2011).


As mentioned in the above theory, if a certain state has more power than another one it can always miss-use power or force in international relations. This calls for a serious security concern for many sovereign nations that might not be as strong as the super power. Recently the dependence on military use to force actions for protecting human rights has been on the rise. Though, it does not stand with the UN’s charter yet it is justified by powerful states on many grounds. This imbalance in the distribution of power and the use of force as a corrective measure has made the world enter into a never ending fight against multiple nations who are said to be involved in activities against human rights. In the previous cold war, the balance of power theory can be clearly seen implemented between Russian and China. Even France has repeatedly shown its disapproval of the U.S. military force used in Iraq, in 2003. Hence all these countries are non allies of U.S. in terms of military power.


In my opinion military intervention can never be justified. Even if, the intervention has the concern of the preservation of human rights I believe military intervention in no way out. In addition, it can never be justified for any self-interest like oil, even if it is imposed to be in view of fighting for human rights. Only if, the intervention is agreed upon by the populace residing in that country or state, the situation can be different.

In the past few years, humanitarian institutions have spoken against the forceful military interventions the tactics used and in specific the behaviors of the armed forces themselves. The new in the limelight is the western idea of a war that has “zero casualties”.  This defies the ethical and moral grounds and principles of one and all logics, since it appears to put up with civilian casualties over military casualties. This in real time admits the legality of civilian casualties and loss of belongings in order to save and protect the military lives. It appears to me as if the humanitarian agencies might even increase their support towards this inverted reasoning of the humanitarian approach by all laws, if the currently going on air-strikes prolong as a means of strategy option for humanitarian intervention.

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