This book presents the case of humanitarian intervention within a discursive theory of international law. It identifies and examines the philosophical and legal concepts which inform the case of humanitarian intervention and scrutinises the pertinent practice. The book explores how legal rules which vie to control humanitarian intervention are moulded by theory and how they inform the relevant practice in cases such as Kosovo, Rwanda or Somalia. It presents the legal and theoretical narrative and its agonising attempts to produce objective, true arguments, to introduce a modicum of morality when faced with hard cases but also to concede a leeway for moral or political relativists. For instance, humanitarian intervention within natural law appeals to modes of justification springing from theistic assumptions such as the moral standing of humans as God's mirror or Kantian ones as partakers of universal reason. The cases of Uganda and Kampuchea should be evaluated in the same way, not according to their effects on the governmental structures but according to how they secured human dignity. Kampuchea was not totally propitious in this regard. Humanitarian intervention stopped widespread massacres at a genocidal level and in this way secured human dignity, but the ensuing situation did not correspond to the standards of human dignity. Following the position developed, cases such as Entebbe and Liberia are included within the concept of humanitarian intervention. Operation 'Restore Hope' for Somalia is marked by the disagreements between the United Nations and the participant states concerning its purposes and means.
The first major post-Cold War conflict, the 1991 Gulf war, indicated how much had already changed. Saddam Hussein had enjoyed Western support in Iraq's war against Iran in the 1980s, but was abruptly cast as the 'new Hitler' after his invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. This book is about how the media have interpreted conflict and international intervention in the years after the Cold War. By comparing press coverage of a number of different wars and crises, it seeks to establish which have been the dominant themes in explaining the post-Cold War international order and to discover how far the patterns established prior to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks have subsequently changed. The key concern is with the legitimacy of Western intervention: the aim is to investigate the extent to which Western military action is represented in news reporting as justifiable and necessary. The book presents a study that looks at UK press coverage of six conflicts and the international response to them: two instances of 'humanitarian military intervention' (Somalia and Kosovo); two cases in which the international community was criticised for not intervening (Bosnia and Rwanda); and two post-9/11 interventions (Afghanistan and Iraq). There were a number of overlapping UN and US interventions in Somalia in the early 1990s. Operation Restore Hope was the first major instance of post-Cold War humanitarian military intervention, following the precedent set by the establishment of 'safe havens' for Iraqi Kurds and other minorities at the end of the 1991 Gulf war.
Writing about Personal Experiences of Humanitarianism
Save the Children UK, a post I have held for the past fifteen of my twenty years at the organisation. I trained as a civil engineer at Manchester University in the late 1980s and started out as a humanitarian aid worker with Concern Worldwide in Somalia in 1993 during the infamous OperationRestoreHope. Most people only know of it from the Hollywood movie Black Hawk Down , but my book offers another first-hand account of the events that led up to this notorious incident.
RR: Why did you decide to write the book? Did you have a particular objective or message in
There were a number of overlapping
UN and US interventions in Somalia in the early 1990s. The United
Nations Mission to Somalia (UNOSOM) began in April 1992 and was
succeeded by UNOSOM II, which operated from March 1993 until March 1995.
A US airlift of food aid, Operation Provide Relief, was launched in
August 1992, and OperationRestoreHope, a UN-authorised military
The UN and peacekeeping, 1988–95
December 1992 to May 1993; UNITAF operated a multinational force under the
label of OperationRestoreHope, under American and not UN command. About
thirty thousand soldiers, policemen and civilians served during the height of the
operation in the first half of 1993. This operation became the biggest mission ever
managed by the UN up to that point.177
The Secretariat personnel and UN diplomats frequently consider the UN intervention in Somalia as a failure, for several reasons. They note that the mandates
defined by the
States chain of command and rules of engagement. 91 As admitted by
the Secretary General, the United States President ‘directed
the execution of OperationRestoreHope on 4 December 1992.
The United States command (USCENTCOM) was given the mission of
conducting joint and combined military operations in Somalia, under
United Nations auspices’. 92 It was again the United States that defined
representatives of developing states that supported the declaration of
the Non-Aligned Movement from 1994, emphasised this issue. See mainly the
discussions of the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly, 1994–1995.
97 Lorenz, ‘Weapons Confiscation Policy’, 414–415; P. Tripodi, The Colonial Legacy
in Somalia, Rome and Mogadishu: From Colonial Administration to OperationRestoreHope (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1999), p. 138.
98 For example, see the following books: Allard, Somalia Operations; Clarke and
Herbst (eds), Learning from Somalia.
99 S/25354, 3 March 1993, para. 41
television footage to drive foreign policy decisions, now labelled
the ‘CNN Effect’, although this term also encapsulated other 24/7
news services like BBC World, Sky News and Fox News.
While many people at the time argued that dramatic television
news coverage was a major factor in prompting international responses to the crises in Northern Iraq after the Gulf War (Operation
Provide Comfort) or in Somalia in 1992 (OperationRestoreHope),
subsequent research has tempered this argument. After all, despite
months of shocking pictures from Rwanda beginning in April and
other instances of intervention by
non-Western states. So concerned was the Saudi government to
claim humanitarian legitimacy for its intervention in Yemen that
it even went to the farcical extent of naming its operation there,
OperationRestoringHope, after the ill-fated US intervention on
the other side of the Gulf of Aden, in Somalia, back in the 1990s:
‘OperationRestoreHope’. The Saudi intervention has, indeed,
been far more inhumane than the US–UN prototype in Somalia.
As we have seen, if Russian justifications are hypocritical, the
Russians cannot be accused
Council 1992c ). It also took an active part in OperationRestoreHope and UNOSOM II.
The former benefited from about 2,000 French troops from 9 December 1992 to 18 December 1993 (Smouts 1998 , 20), while the latter received an average of 1,104 soldiers per month between May and November 1993 (UN 1993 ).
Nevertheless, the success of UNOSOM II was rapidly compromised when “left with the task of disarming the various warring factions, [it] was inevitably drawn into Somalia's fractious clan politics