A dramatic shift in international practice emerged in the 1990s when the United Nations Security Council authorized military humanitarian intervention to stop gross human rights violations. During the Cold War, the Security Council did not halt mass killing and sanctioned states that intervened in sovereign states, despite humanitarian motives or effects. It has responded unevenly to mass killing, however. This dissertation seeks to answer the puzzle of why the Security Council intervenes militarily in defense of human rights in some places but fails to stop ethnic cleansing in others. It traces the emergence of a new norm of humanitarian intervention, the course of its evolution (1991-2004) and the conditions of its use. The dissertation relies on qualitative, comparative case studies: the establishment of no-fly zones in Iraq; three cases of Security Council authorized humanitarian intervention (Somalia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Sierra Leone); and three "non-cases" where humanitarian intervention might have been expected but was not authorized (Rwanda, Kosovo and Darfur, Sudan). There is a connection between the ways that Council Members argue about conflicts and their intervention decisions. For humanitarian intervention to become possible, members of the Security Council, including most of its permanent members, must adopt or accede to a common story about the character of the conflict and its resultant human rights violations-- an intentional causal story with clear victims and identifiable and intentional perpetrators. When significant contestation over competing causal stories occurs, the success of any particular causal story is mediated by: the extent to which humanitarian intervention in that particular case would conflict with or complement the highly internalized norms of state sovereignty and non-intervention; the support of Great Power leadership; and the coherence between causal stories and expert testimony, forensic evidence, and media imagery on the cause and character of the conflict. I conclude that humanitarian intervention does not threaten sovereignty but reformulates it to include citizen protection and the recognition of fundamental human rights. The nascent norm of humanitarian intervention, encapsulated in the responsibility to protect, is gaining international support but has not yet cascaded throughout the international system.
University of Minnesota. Ph.D. dissertation. June 2008. Major: Political Science. Advisor: Sikkink, Kathryn. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 436 pages.
Walling, Carrie Booth.
The United Nations Security Council and humanitarian intervention: Causal stories about human rights and war..
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