Motives, outcomes, intent and the legitimacy of humanitarian intervention

Journal of Military Ethics 3 (3):216-232 (2004)
During the 1990s, international society increasingly recognised that states who abuse their citizens in the most egregious ways ought to lose their sovereign inviolability and be subject to humanitarian intervention. The emergence of this norm has given renewed significance to the debate concerning what it is about humanitarian intervention that makes it legitimate. The most popular view is that it is humanitarian motivations that legitimise intervention. Others insist that humanitarian outcomes are more important that an actor's motivations, pointing for instance to the ousting of the Khmer Rouge by Vietnam. Given the centrality of this debate, this article reinvestigates the ?motives versus outcomes? debate and suggests an alternative reading based on the classic Just War tradition. It argues that an actor's intentions are vital to assessing the legitimacy of an intervention
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