Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 April 2011
If it bee objected … that God hath appointed limits and boundes to everie nation, and that we may not as it were thrust in our sickle into their harvest, neither is my counsell to the contrarie, that under pretence of ayde we should invade … an other nation, or chalenge their jurisdiction … but rather that we should cut short … any tyrant afflicting his own people, any king throwing downe the props and stayes of his common wealth.Vindiciae, contra tyrannos, first English edition (1588)
It is too late in the day … to tell us that nations may not forcibly interfere with one another for the sole purpose of stopping mischief and benefitting humanity.John Stuart Mill, 1849
Is it permissible to let gross and systematic violations of human rights, with grave humanitarian consequences, continue unchecked?
If humanitarian intervention is, indeed, an unacceptable assault on sovereignty, how should we respond … to gross and systematic violations of human rights that offend every precept of our common humanity?Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, September 2000
The essays in this book sketch out the long-term history of what, since the nineteenth century, has been termed ‘humanitarian intervention’ – that is, action by governments (or, more rarely, by organisations) to prevent or to stop governments, organisations, or factions in a foreign state from violently oppressing, persecuting, or otherwise abusing the human rights of people within that state.