Armed Humanitarian Intervention and the Problem of Abuse after Libya

The Ethics of Armed Humanitarian Intervention

Author/s (editor/s):

Luke Glanville

Publication year:

2014

Publication type:

Book chapter

Find this publication at:
Cambridge University Press

Luke Glanville, ‘Armed Humanitarian Intervention and the Problem of Abuse after Libya’, in Don Scheid ed., The Ethics of Armed Humanitarian Intervention, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014, pp. 148-65.

The idea of armed humanitarian intervention has long been attended with warnings that it will be abused by powerful states seeking to justify wars fought not for humanitarian purposes but for self-interest. This problem of abuse has received renewed attention in the wake of NATO’s recent intervention in Libya. This chapter attempts to find a way through this problem of abuse. I cautiously advance an argument that the problem is not as fatal to the idea of humanitarian intervention as some suggest. After outlining how the problem of abuse has evolved as the idea of humanitarian intervention has itself evolved over time, I consider three reasons that might be offered for why we should embrace the idea of military intervention for the protection of populations in spite of its persistent abuse. I conclude by briefly contemplating what options might be available to the society of states for further limiting the problem of abuse without abandoning the idea of armed humanitarian intervention altogether.

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