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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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The Leeriness Objection to the Responsibility to Protect

The Leeriness Objection to the Responsibility to Protect

(p.100) 5 The Leeriness Objection to the Responsibility to Protect
Challenges for Humanitarian Intervention

Marco Meyer

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that even non-abusive interventions (those that are motivated purely by altruistic concern, have a just cause, are a last resort etc.) are morally problematic due to their effects on the international order. The trouble is that ‘bystander states’—those that are neither prosecuting the intervention nor targeted by it—usually do not have sufficient direct evidence that the intervention is just and properly motivated, nor can they trust the testimony of the intervening state. Thus, for all that bystander states know, any and every instance of humanitarian intervention is abusive: an act of unjust international aggression masquerading as something else. This, in turn, weakens the willingness of these bystander states to comply with the non-aggression norm themselves, since states are ‘conditional cooperators’—they abide by norms only insofar as they are reasonably assured that other states in the international arena are abiding.

Keywords:   Bystander states, aggression, norms, conditional co–operators, international order

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