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The Thorny Issues Surrounding International Intervention

Tina Mavrikos-Adamou - 2nd April 2012
The Thorny Issues Surrounding International Intervention

The contentious issue of international intervention has for centuries created both political and legal dilemmas for policymakers and political leaders, who find themselves in the position of having to make decisions that often have far-reaching consequences. What distinguishes the present era from the past is that international lawyers as well as political leaders have been forced to address evolving political, economic, and moral questions surrounding international intervention as new civil conflicts occur. Two main debates are currently raging surrounding international intervention. International lawyers as well as many political leaders maintain that international intervention is not legally justified under the current international legal framework, and that territorial integrity must remain paramount. A counter argument is being articulated by those who believe international intervention is justified on humanitarian grounds, specifically when there are gross and systemic instances of human rights abuses occurring that jeopardise international security and peace. This debate is affecting the classical notion of state sovereignty. The increasing number of failed states and the growing number of instances of a claim to statehood are two auxiliary but intertwined additional concerns within the intervention vs. sovereignty debate that need to be considered.

Policy Implications

  • Debates surrounding international intervention are currently forcing a re-evaluation of the classical notion of state sovereignty.
  • Structural and procedural changes need to occur within the United Nations system to be able to form a consensus position to address current civil/internal conflicts occurring around the world.
  • As civil/internal conflicts are moving beyond their borders and affecting the international environment, so too does the decision-making process addressing these conflicts need to keep apace to meet the challenges posed to international peace and security.
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