Humanitarian Intervention and United Nations

  • Shazia Siddiqui
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  • Shazia Siddiqui

    Research Scholar at Faculty of Law, Delhi University, India

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With the establishment of United Nations in the aftermath of the Second World War, one clear objective of the international community was to bring and ensure peace and stability around the globe. However a cursory glance at the world history of past few decades provides ample evidence that little has been achieved. There is no guarantee against war-like situations. As a matter of fact international community do, legally and otherwise, recognize the necessity of armed intervention, popularly, known as humanitarian intervention. The doctrine of humanitarian intervention essentially contemplates the use of military force by one state (or a group of states) against another state not in self-defence but, rather, to prevent the widespread deprivation of human rights . A right to humanitarian intervention presents a clear fundamental challenge to state sovereignty, therefore needs a strong justification and a clear legal basis. The UN Charter contains a general presumption against the use of force in international affairs. Specifically, Article 2(4) states, “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.” In addition Article 2(7) prohibits intervention “in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state”. The Charter, however, contains two explicit exceptions to the Article 2(4): Article 51, which permits the use of force in self-defence, and Articles 39, 42, and 43 (powers under Chapter VII) which permit the UN Security Council to authorize the use of force to “maintain and restore international peace and security.” If we take into consideration, activity that are reasonably characterised as humanitarian intervention occurred in places like Somalia (1992-1993), Haiti (1994), Bosnia (1993-1995), Kosovo (1999), East Timor (1999), and Sierra Leone (2000) but not in places where there have been equally heinous and large scale atrocities like Rwanda (1994), the Democratic Republic of Congo (1997-2001), Sudan (1998, 2003), and others has drawn charges of inconsistency and selective indignation. Kosovo intervention proved to be a magnet for charges; it is, after all hard to reconcile NATO’s seemingly enthusiastic humanitarian intervention over Kosovo with the world’s utter indifference over genocide in Rwanda. On one hand where Humanitarian Intervention empowers world leaders to be something more than being a mute spectator of gross human rights violations. On the other hand there is a policy objection to humanitarian intervention, It is prone to abuse as it provides cover for self interested action. This abuse of the humanitarian justification for military action blurs the distinction between legitimate exceptions to the non-intervention principle and subversion of the principle for reasons of national interest .Its in this light the author would discuss the structure, scope and limitation of UN with respect to Humanitarian Intervention and also touch upon the concept of Responsibility to protect as an alternative to humanitarian intervention.


Research Paper


International Journal of Legal Science and Innovation, Volume 3, Issue 6, Page 206 - 214


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