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Challenges for Humanitarian InterventionEthical Demand and Political Reality$
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C. A. J. Coady, Ned Dobos, and Sagar Sanyal

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198812852

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198812852.001.0001

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Why Sovereignty Matters Despite Injustice

Why Sovereignty Matters Despite Injustice

The Ethics of Intervention

(p.38) 2 Why Sovereignty Matters Despite Injustice
Challenges for Humanitarian Intervention

Richard W. Miller

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues for greater reluctance to launch humanitarian military interventions, without appealing to any inherent value in sovereignty or autonomous political community. Instead, it appeals to the likely consequences of such intervention—both within the target country and for international relations. Miller considers four types of candidate for intervention: stable tyrannies, unstable tyrannies, popular secessions, and ongoing large-scale killing and displacement. Only in the last of these should we be disposed to support intervention according to Miller, since the likely consequences that plague the other three types are here less challenging. Stable tyrannies are usually maintained because the regime has engineered a wide base of support among elites. External overthrow thus risks unleashing violent conflict between divided groups. In unstable tyrannies internally-driven regime change is preferable. Finally, in popular secession external intervention can stoke Great Power worries about spheres of influence and inspire military build-up.

Keywords:   Sovereignty, political autonomy, tyranny, succession, military intervention

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