Humanitarianism and (In)Humanitarian Intervention: Purposes, Compatibility, and Implications

  • Author / Creator
    Sly, Chenoa J
  • Humanitarianism and humanitarian intervention are not conceptually or operationally compatible. By developing a history of the concept of humanitarianism, and by developing a list of the purposes of humanitarian intervention based on statements made by members of the United Nation Security Council and their guests in relation to the intervention in Libya in 2011, I will establish that they are not a part of the same tradition, and they have wildly different purposes. Humanitarianism is a part of the Dunantist tradition, and is committed to the imperative to alleviate suffering that is ongoing, not to prevent suffering. Humanitarianism is dynamic and adaptive, and sensitive to relationships of paternalism and structures of power. Humanitarian intervention, on the other hand, is a part of the Wilsonian tradition of aid and is related to the perpetual peace project. It is motivated by a concern for national security and the desire to prevent any threat from causing suffering at home. I will argue that political humanitarian groups that incorporate human rights into their mandates are also a part of this tradition and act as force multipliers of state action. Humanitarian intervention is not sustainable. It has not been successful in achieving its stated goals of protecting civilians, nor of achieving an alleviation of suffering, and is, therefore, losing supporters. Furthermore, the conflation of humanitarianism with humanitarian intervention has served to endanger humanitarian workers and clients.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2017-11:Fall 2017
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Political Science
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Epp, Roger (Political Science)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Keating, Thomas (Political Science)
    • Byrne, Siobhan (Political Science)