Military humanitarian intervention is the use of armed force to address extraordinary suffering of people and large-scale violations of human rights, where people’s suffering results from their own government’s failure or inability to act. It is used in order to address these problems when adequate help cannot be found within their own nation. The interventions occur to protect, defend, or rescue other people from mistreatment by their own government or terrorist groups and can be conducted without the consent of the offending nation. Historically, a lot of the laws surrounding military humanitarian intervention have derived from gross misconduct in war, first brought to light in World War Two as the precedent set by the Nuremburg Trials (in which 12 Nazis were executed) saw the punishment for human rights violations carried through to future interventions and seen in cases such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia regarding the Balkans, allowing victims to voice the horrors they faced at the hands of the military effort and people were tried for breaching the Geneva Convention, crimes against humanity, genocide and violations of the laws and customs of war. Recently, military humanitarian intervention has been most common in the Middle East in areas such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq and in Africa in places such as Burma as a result of civil wars.
This demonstrates a focal point of military humanitarian intervention in developing nations as this is where the most inequality is present and where human rights are most undermined, creating a requirement for external intervention as governments are often poorer and lack the capability to solve these issues.The modern international system is founded on the premise that sovereign states have a right to non-intervention. Yet as a result of the increased rate of intervention since 1991 the idea of sovereign immunity has been confronted if it forgoes protecting civilians from harm. This humanitarian perspective on the use of force places a focus on the rights of people over the rights of a state. However, it has since been suggested that part of the duty of the state is to safeguard its citizens and if that duty is not upheld other governments have the right to act when authorised by the UN, including the right to use force against states that do not live up to this responsibility . This was endorsed by the General Assembly at the 2005 World Summit.Those who intervene are governed and regulated closely.
This regulation is required largely due to events which have occurred in the past, such as the failings surrounding intervention for the Rwandan Genocide. The laws surrounding military humanitarian intervention are laid out in the UN Charter and state that it may transpire as a preventative measure or as enforcement. The Security Council may call upon United Nations members to provide the means for intervention through air, sea or land forces, and these members should hold national air-force contingents for combined international enforcement action, which will be immediately available upon request. The Military Staff Committee advises and assists the Security Council on all areas relating to the military requirements for the maintenance of international peace and security, the employment and command of forces placed at its disposal, the regulation of armaments, and possible disarmament.Military intervention can be difficult to justify in humanitarian terms due to the potential destructiveness of any military operation and the political implications any of their actions will have. This can then lead to conflict with solely humanitarian organisations, demonstrated through the controversy over provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) in Afghanistan, highlighting the scope for extreme disagreement between military and humanitarian perspectives on appropriate military activities.
It becomes effective when the military humanitarian intervention prevents or stops more harm than it causes, such as saving lives by preventing or ending violent attacks on unarmed civilians, or by assisting the delivery of aid.The necessity for intervention in weaker states has raised concerns as early as 2003 through the joint force of the UK and US in Iraq. The attempt at justification was made here in humanitarian terms due to the supposed weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussain was suspected of having.
Bush in particular used the humanitarian intervention as a mask to present a defence against the ‘axis of evil arming to threaten the peace of the world’ , however, the Bush administration were forced to admit that Iraq may have destroyed much of its chemical and biological arsenal prior to the Iraqi War. Yet Bush maintained that ‘this Iraq is a regime that has something to hide from the civilised world’ , suggesting that world powers used their resources to exploit intervention for the purpose of a nuclear deterrent. Although there were undeniably acts which grossly violated human rights in Iraq and ‘horrors concealed from the world by the apparatus of a totalitarian state’ as armed Shiite militias kidnapped and tortured members of the Iraqi state and their families, this should not have been used as a justification. In March 2003, a US –led coalition toppled the Hussain regime and insurgency began in July shortly after this. The troops faced low-intensity guerrilla-style war and imprisoned Iraqi soldiers. The first indication that US troops were treating their prisoners inhumanely surfaced in April 2004 when photographic evidence was released demonstrating abuse at the Abu Ghreib prison in Baghdad.
Violence continued to escalate until December 2006 when Saddam Hussain was executed and one month later Bush dispatched thousands more US troops to Iraq to maintain order. The number of civilian and military deaths dropped and in December 2007, the British hand over control of southern Iraq to Iraqi forces after 5 years. This was shortly followed by the US in September 2008 as they handed over the western province of Anbar. In November a pact was then made between the US and Iraqi Parliament that all troops will be removed from Iraq by the end of 2011, which was followed through . The level of military humanitarian intervention in Iraq was high. The official aim of the operation was to stop Saddam Hussain’s ruthless policies and enforce a new parliament in Iraq. However, the investigation into Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction was also a crucial factor in Bush’s decision to intervene.
The intervention was successful in its official aim as a new government was approved in 2010 and Hussain and his advisors were no longer influential in Iraq. But there were mistakes made regarding the treatment of Iraqi citizens and prisoners by both US and UK troops and Bush’s insistence on Iraq’s nuclear weapons. As there was a success, the intervention was partially effective, however, as soon as international troops were removed from Iraq there was in an intensification of Sunni insurgency and by Jul 2013 it was described as a full-blown sectarian war. This would suggest that the intervention was largely effective during the period in which Iraq was occupied as it did achieve the official goal, however, this was only a short term solution, demonstrated through the lack of order that was achieved once the intervention had ended.The success and effectiveness of military humanitarian intervention can differ greatly in different situations. This is demonstrated in Rwanda where the issue is less regarding the nature of intervention and more surrounding the lack of action. Ever since Rwanda had been granted independence from Belgium in 1962, ethnically motivated violence was rife as a consequence of the conflict between the two tribes, the Hutus and the Tutsis.
The leader of Rwanda installed in 1973, Major General Juvenal Habyarimana, a moderate Hutu, founded a new political party, the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (NRMD). In 1990 the Rwandese Patriotic Forces (RPF), consisting mostly of Tutus, invaded Rwanda from Uganda, after negotiation, Habyarimana signed an agreement in 1993 calling for a transition government which would include the RPF. This angered extremist Hutus. In response, on the 6th April 1994, a plane carrying Habyarimana was shot down, leaving no survivors. Within an hour of the plane crash, the Presidential Guard together with members of the Rwandan armed forces (FAR) and Hutu militia groups began slaughtering Tutsis and moderate Hutus. This violence created a political vacuum, into which an interim government of extremist Hutu Power leaders from the military high command stepped on 9th April.
800,000 people were slaughtered over the next three months. During this period, local officials and government-sponsored radio stations called on ordinary Rwandan civilians to murder their neighbours. Meanwhile, the RPF resumed fighting, and civil war raged alongside the genocide.
By early July, RPF forces had gained control over most of country. More than 2 million people fled Rwanda, crowding into refugee camps. After its victory, the RPF established a coalition government. Habyarimana’s NRMD party, which had played a key role in organizing the genocide, was outlawed, and a new constitution adopted in 2003 eliminated reference to ethnicity. The international community largely remained on the side-lines during the Rwandan genocide. A U.N. Security Council vote in April 1994 led to the withdrawal of a U.
N. peacekeeping operation (UNAMIR) created to aid with governmental transition under the Arusha accord. As reports of the genocide spread, the Security Council voted in mid-May to supply a more robust force, including more than 5,000 troops. By the time that force arrived in full, however, the genocide had been over for months. In a separate French intervention approved by the U.N., French troops entered Rwanda from Zaire in late June. They limited their intervention to a “humanitarian zone” set up in southwestern Rwanda, saving tens of thousands of Tutsi lives but also helping some of the genocide’s plotters to escape.
Twenty-eight have since been convicted, and five acquitted. Twenty-seven accused persons are being tried now, and eighteen indicted remain at large. The lack of intervention in Rwanda was an international disaster. The lack of willingness to take responsibility led to a genocide the likes of which were unheard of on a solely national level.
Former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali told the PBS news program “Frontline”: “The failure of Rwanda is 10 times greater than the failure of Yugoslavia. Because in Yugoslavia the international community was interested, was involved. In Rwanda nobody was interested.” Attempts were later made to rectify this passivity. After the RPF victory, the UNAMIR operation was brought back up to strength; it remained in Rwanda until March 1996, as one of the largest humanitarian relief efforts in history.
This suggests that despite acknowledging that action should be taken, nothing occurred in order to correct this. Therefore, the effectiveness of military humanitarian intervention here was very limited. The events in Rwanda suggest that the nature in which military humanitarian intervention is implemented has severe downfalls.
The error here lies with the international community being unable to recognise that help was required or, if they did, a level of ignorance to how they could help. However, this intervention and genocide was over twenty years ago and the international perspective on intervention has since developed.