Humanitarian intervention and the moral dimension of violence
in Violence and the state
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This chapter examines the use of morality in cases of violence justified as humanitarian intervention. It argues that rather than this being reflective of normative shifts in world politics brought about by global civil society, it can be explained by referring to the role of power and interests. After an examination of how supporters of global civil society have argued for changing norms of sovereignty tied to greater acceptance of human rights, the chapter takes a critical view of the notion of the just use of force. Specifically I argue that where instances of humanitarian intervention have occurred, there have certain national interests motivating elite decisions to use force. Thus, the chapter finds that normative perspectives misrepresent the moral considerations that justify the use of force. In doing so, I argue that an analysis which focuses on interests relative to morality offers a more accurate understanding of what factors motivate a states’ commitment to resort to violence in order to achieve ‘humanitarian’ objectives.

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