Who Should Intervene?

Research paper by Fredrik D. Hjorthen

Indexed on: 28 Oct '17Published on: 24 Oct '17Published in: Res Publica


The objective of this paper is to develop a novel account of how the duty to undertake humanitarian intervention should be assigned to states. It takes as its point of departure two worries about the best existing answer to this question, namely: (a) that it is insensitive to historical considerations, and (b) that its distribution is unfair. Against this background I propose that the duty to intervene should be assigned to states based on the strength of their claim to reject the burden of intervention. Specifically, I argue that the strength of such claims should be determined by ability to intervene effectively, adjusted for historical responsibility for the rights-violations taking place, and the extent to which their capacity for intervention derives from resources tainted by historical rights-violations. This approach, I will argue, can better accommodate the centrality of protecting the victims while also taking into account both historical and distributive concerns.