The Responsibility to Protect

Meanwhile, the debate about intervention for human protection purposes has not gone away. And it will not go away so long as human nature remains as fallible as it is and internal conflict and state failures stay as prevalent as they are. The debate was certainly a lively one throughout the 1990s. Controversy may have been muted in the case of the interventions, by varying casts of actors, in Liberia in 1990, northern Iraq in 1991, Haiti in 1994, Sierra Leone in 1997, and (not strictly coercively) East Timor in 1999. But in Somalia in 1993, Rwanda in 1994, and Bosnia in 1995, the UN action taken (if taken at all) was widely perceived as too little too late, misconceived, poorly resourced, poorly executed, or all of the above. During NATO’s 1999 intervention in Kosovo, Security Council members were sharply divided; the legal justification for action without UN authority was asserted but largely unargued; and great misgivings surrounded the means by which the allies waged the war.

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