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Humanitarian Intervention and International Relations$
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Jennifer M. Welsh

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199267217

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2004

DOI: 10.1093/0199267219.001.0001

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Humanitarian Intervention and International Society: Lessons from Africa

Humanitarian Intervention and International Society: Lessons from Africa

Chapter:
(p.120) 7 Humanitarian Intervention and International Society: Lessons from Africa
Source:
Humanitarian Intervention and International Relations
Author(s):

James Mayall

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199267219.003.0007

After the end of the Cold War, many in the West viewed Africa as a testing ground for the solidarist argument that sovereignty was no longer an absolute principle and that the international community could intervene to protect individual from human rights violations. This argument seems particularly challenging in the African context, given the continental leadership’s historic commitment to territorial integrity and non-intervention. However, as the author shows, African leaders from 1945 to 1990 were largely upholding the pluralist international norms of the time. In other words, the case for humanitarian intervention – and the problems posed by the practice – are not region-specific. The early 1990s, during which the United Nations intervened in Somalia, seemed to confirm the solidarist position. However, the failure to intervene in Rwanda in 1994, and the more recent experience of interventions in Sierra Leone, present a more mixed picture. Humanitarian intervention remains a controversial practice because of its coercive means, and its tendency to attribute blame or responsibility in what are often very complex civil conflicts.

Keywords:   African Union (AU), Biafra, decolonization, ECOWAS, HIV/AIDS, Idi Amin, imperialism, International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, international society, James Mayall, Liberia, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Operation Turquoise, Operations Restore Hope, Organization of African Unity (OAU), pan-African, pluralist, Rhodesia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, solidarist, Somalia, territorial integrity, Uganda, UNAMIR I, UNAMSIL, UNOSOM II, uti possidetis

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