Humanitarian Aid

Is humanitarian intervention ever anything other than
a fig leaf for national interest?

When discussing the issue over humanitarian intervention and wether or not it is merely a front used by states to mask their own interests it it important to first define humanitarian intervention. J.L. Holzgrefe defines humanitarian intervention as, “the threat or use of force across state borders by a state (or group of states) aimed at preventing or ending widespread and grave violations of fundamental human rights of individuals other that its own citizens, without the permission of the state within whose territory the force is applied.” and for the purpose of this essay this is the definition that will be used when assessing pervious cases of intervention and the reasoning behind them. (Holzgrefe 2003)   There is also a need to evaluate the two main schools of thought on the legitimacy of humanitarian intervention, Restrictionists and Counter Restrictionists, this does not directly relate to the question but is important in understanding the way in which examples of humanitarian intervention have been perceived by the international community and many of the points raised by the two opposing schools do directly relate to the question over national interest. There has also been a change in approach towards humanitarian intervention by the main state powers and this should also been considered as the answer to this question may have changed over time as the approach of the key states changed. Through this essay I will attempt to argue a realist view which states that national interest drives a states foreign policy and thus they only intervene when it suites their own agenda to do so. In the majority of examples of humanitarian intervention in the post- cold war period the states who intervened in matters of human rights always have their own incentives that are hidden by the shroud of humanitarian intervention.

The debate over the legitimacy of humanitarian...