A brief exploration of how Just War theorists view the exception of humanitarian intervention. There are many stipulations Just War thinkers put on war, including jus in bello and jus ad bellum.
I will consider the position of Just War theory and how it interacts with humanitarian intervention. The primary focus will be of armed humanitarian intervention rather than what is defined as humanitarian aid. Humanitarian intervention ought to always be considered as a violation of the sovereign state. But in some cases it can be justified. I will discuss the situations of one or more countries invading a sovereign nation in the name of humanitarian intervention. I will review some of the issues that a Just War Theorist will bring up in opposition of humanitarian aid as well as reasons for it.
There is a line to be drawn between armed humanitarian intervention and humanitarian aid. Humanitarian intervention can be thought of specifically as a forceful behavior carried out by an international community in a particular state without that states approval or cooperation. Usually because there is some organized human rights violations being done by, incited by or tolerated by that particular state. The primary measure for this case is that the international community is intervening without the consent of the country violating the human rights.
Humanitarian aid is a different situation in which the state at hand is unable to provide adequate resources for its population to survive. The range of these criteria could be failure to provide food or safety but with the stipulation that the state is not intentionally violating the human rights of its people and gives consent to foreign aid.
At the root of the issue of humanitarian intervention is the presence of fundamental human rights. If there are a set of human rights that ought to be granted to any and all human beings and it ought to also be the duty of every human to maintain and protect those rights. Human rights are not something given by a sovereign government but something taken by sovereign people. There has been some disagreement over this notion of it being a right or a responsibility. Now, the common way to talk about this type of intervention is as a responsibility. This way of thinking is commonly dubbed “responsibility to protect” by the U.N.
The U.N. released a report in 2004 that outlined five criteria that the Security Council uses to authorize armed military intervention to protect human rights. Those five being seriousness of threat, proper purpose, last resort, proportional means and balance of consequences. Humanitarian intervention when performed within these standards is a perfectly acceptable reason for invading a sovereign nation.