Miliary intervention remains a controversial part of human protection. Indispensable in some circumstances, military intervention confronts significant structural challenges which means that it is used only rarely and has the propensity for causing unintended negative consequences. In this essay, we examine the place of humanitarian intervention within the human protection regime. Focusing on the case of Libya, we argue that the UN Security Council has now accepted that the use force, even against a sovereign state, is a sometimes legitimate response to mass atrocities. But the Libya experience also raised three major challenges – challenges of regime change, accountability, and selectivity – that will have be addressed if military intervention is ever to become a legitimate part of international society’s anti-atrocities arsenal. First, we show how increased international activism after the Cold War helped put downwards pressure on the incidence of mass atrocities worldwide. Second, we explain why armed intervention remained a controversial and rarely employed instrument of human protection. Third, we argue that the UN Security Council’s decision to authorise armed intervention in Libya represented a significant development in the place of armed intervention as a tool of human protection. Finally, we examine the political consequences of the intervention and argue that these will need to be addressed in order to rebuild sufficient trust to allow future considerations of the use of force for humanitarian purposes.
Alex J. Bellamy and Stephen McLoughlin
Andrea L. Everett
The practice of humanitarian military action has changed markedly in the 21st century when compared with the 1990s. This essay explores three broad trends that have shaped this evolution. First, the UN has adopted the protection of civilians as a central element of its agenda and as a guiding principle for reforming its peace operations and its responses to atrocities such as genocide and ethnic cleansing. Second, major powers have played a central role as belligerents or patrons of belligerents in many of the worst conflicts of the last two decades. And third, the wealthy Western states with the greatest resources and military capabilities for ambitious humanitarian operations have substantially reduced their direct contributions to these missions. Together, these developments have shifted the balance of responsibility and effort for humanitarian military operations toward the UN and developing countries; constrained the ambitions of these missions; limited what they can accomplish and contributed to gaps between the expectations they create and the protection they are able to deliver; and discouraged meaningful action in response to many of the century’s most devastating conflicts.
Since the end of the Cold War, Iraq has faced three international interventions. While their humanitarian component was a secondary – and at times, arguable – factor, they all played a central role in normative debates on the extent to which states should protect populations from mass atrocities beyond their borders (and what that actually entails), making Iraq a central piece of the human protection puzzle. In addition to analysing how Iraq’s fate has played a key part in the development of human protection over the years, the article argues that France had a central role in both the interventions and the normative debates they generated, and investigates its role in depth. By doing so, it deepens our understanding of human protection, France’s foreign policy and Iraq’s development.
Pınar Gözen Ercan
Bringing into focus the two formal debates on the Responsibility to Protect that took place in 2009 and 2018, this article identifies the approaches of member states towards the humanitarian use of force by locating it in the UN’s deliberations on R2P. To this end, the article compares and contrasts country statements in order to trace states’ general approach towards humanitarian intervention on the basis of their reflections on R2P. Following from this, the article examines whether or not states’ approaches to humanitarian intervention have been transforming in the twenty-first century, and evaluates how the humanitarian use of force is perceived in relation to the R2P framework that was embraced by the member states of the UN General Assembly in 2005, and how this affects the future of R2P.
Ya Lan Chang
Should Singapore’s conservative, communitarian society continue to criminalise male homosexuality in the name of its common good? This is the fundamental question raised by Singapore’s continued retention of Section 377A of the Penal Code, a colonial-era law that criminalises only male homosexual conduct. With reference to Parliament’s reasons for retaining 377A and scholarly arguments against homosexuality, this article reconstructs, and debunks, the best philosophical case in favour of 377A; namely, that it should be conserved to sustain communitarian Singapore’s common good. Instead, the article argues that, because homosexuality is morally permissible, 377A does not satisfy the ‘goodness’ component of the common good and hence does not, and cannot, sustain communitarian Singapore’s common good. Rather, a communitarian approach to 377A, one based on an inclusive conception of communitarianism and an aggregative conception of the common good, would lead to its repeal and vindicate gay men’s right to equality.
Implications of the Current Law and Practice on the Rights of Persons with Mental Illnesses
This article examines the current legal framework and practice of the conditional discharge of mental health patients in Hong Kong under Section 42B of the Mental Health Ordinance from a human rights perspective. Using existing literature and findings from semi-structured qualitative interviews conducted with medical professionals, the author argues that the current regime lacks adequate safeguards for mental health patients, both in law and in actual practice, and suffers from the absence of a clear guiding purpose. As such, the law and practice of conditional discharge would most likely infringe patients’ fundamental rights to private and family life and to liberty and personal security. The article concludes with the suggestion that an evidence-based approach is required to determine the purpose of the regime and how it may be best designed for that end.
Sheikh Mohammad Towhidul Karim, Shawkat Alam, George F Tomossy and Abdullah Al Faruque
This article examines how a right to health, expressed as a minimum core obligation under international law, can be advanced within the constitutional framework of Bangladesh. Reinforcing this right is important within the post-2015 Development Agenda under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Drawing upon examples of other jurisdictions to develop minimum core obligations of a right to health, it is argued that courts have a key role to play in actively enforcing a right to health to benefit poor, vulnerable and marginalised people. This article proposes that judicial adherence through interpretation of domestic and international law may provide the best mechanism to promote a right to health as a minimum core obligation in Bangladesh.
This article investigates why some states in the Asia Pacific have retained capital punishment, while others have abolished it, either de facto or de jure. In contrast to existing theories, it is theorised that governments conduct cost-benefit calculations considering both domestic support and international pressure for abolition, then formulate their death penalty policy based on the lowest cost scenario. This theory is tested by applying controlled comparison and process tracing analysis to three cases: Cambodia, South Korea, and Indonesia. These case studies demonstrate that pressures from domestic and international political audiences are determinative in states’ decision-making processes regarding capital punishment.
Maria Augusta León Moreta
In Latin America extractive operations have given rise to the loss and environmental degradation of indigenous peoples’ territories. This, in turn, has implied the denial of the access of indigenous peoples to essential resources for their cultural, economic and social development. To compensate the loss of their livelihood, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, states, multinational and financial institutions have recognised the right of indigenous peoples to benefit sharing. This article analyses the impact of this mechanism on indigenous peoples’ lives. While the definition and scope of benefit sharing is still being shaping at international level, its implementation depends on the political and economic interests at national level. The case of Shuar communities in Ecuador affected by the Mirador and San Carlos Panatza mining project illustrates how a top-down hierarchical approach to implementation leads to violent confrontation between state, corporations and indigenous peoples.