Darfur, the authority of law, and unilateral humanitarian intervention

Despite the massive atrocities observed, first in Rwanda and now in Darfur, a wide number of observers oppose the idea of unilateral humanitarian intervention. Contemporary posture typifies the idea that legal recognition of unilateral humanitarian intervention would destabilize world order because some member states would instigate ill-motivated hostilities under the guise of humanitarianism, thereby reducing the efficacy and primacy of the UN Charter. This article offers a new challenge to the pretext claim. By clarifying various ideas about the meaning and limits of law and examining how law emerges as a practical authority, this article illustrates basic distinctions about the relationship between law and morality. It ascribes validity to the integrative, condition based approach to unilateral humanitarian intervention and renders doubtful the pretextualist claim that the noninterventionist framework of the United Nations Charter (Charter) functions as an effective juridical construct. In so doing, this article accepts the possibility of altruistic unilateral humanitarian intervention.
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