Are humanitarian military interventions obligatory?

Journal of Applied Philosophy 25 (2):134–144 (2008)
I argue here that certain species of war, namely humanitarian military interventions (HMIs), can be obligatory within particular contexts. Specifically, I look at the notion of HMIs through the lens of just war theory and argue that when a minimal account of jus ad bellum implies that an intervention is permissible, it also implies that it is obligatory. I begin by clarifying the jus ad bellum conditions (such as just cause, right intentions, etc.) under which an intervention is permissible. I then turn to the claim that permissibility necessitates obligation, by first showing that whenever an intervention is permissible, it is also minimally decent. Second, I show that minimally decent actions are morally obligatory by arguing that the notion of minimal decency is a conceptual bridge between negative and positive duties. Third, I argue that performing minimally decent actions is necessary for a state to be just. Ultimately, my conclusion arises from the following observation: if a humanitarian crisis is bad enough for one to hold that it is permissible to breach sovereignty of a nation, then it is bad enough to hold that there is an obligation to intervene.
Keywords humanitarian interventions  war
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