Humanitarian intervention is when a country is besieged with problems that cause death and destruction on a massive scale and other countries intervene to offer their aid in solving the problems. Humanitarian intervention is largely seen in cases such as civil war, natural calamities like floods, earthquakes, cyclones, drought or epidemics, human rights violations on a massive scale, genocide and ethnic wars.
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Many view that international humanitarian intervention is against the rights of sovereignty of the country and other countries have little or no justification in intervening in the domestic problems of the country. Others, like Haskin (2006) argue that there have to be certain criteria that justify international humanitarian intervention such as the type of intervention and the length of the intervention. Still others think that the Security Council’s should be the first to intervene in critical situations involving humanitarian violations and other countries should only intervene if the Security Council is unable to maintain peace and preserve human lives and rights. This is because international intervention could turn out to be more harmful and could also cause the loss of independence and integrity of the nation. People like Haas (1999) feel that a massive action should be taken right at the beginning of the intervention in order to defeat the opponents and enhance the support of the public to the intervention.
The non-intervention principle of the United Nations was superseded by the Genocide Convention of 1948. But even that was not made use of to prevent or mitigate the genocide of the millions of Tutsi at Rwanda or the Bosnian massacres at Srebrenica and other places. Now a new initiative in the form of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) has been created in the year 2000 to address the issues with a different perspective. Humanitarian intervention is no more termed as the ‘right to intervene’, but as the ‘responsibility to protect’ or the R2P. The responsibility of other countries to protect the people of a state that is not able to protect them from natural and man-made disasters. This principle of responsibility to protect was later included in the UN outcome document but without the natural disasters being included as causes for intervention. In spite of this, countries such as Russia, Brazil, India and China and others which had been under the colonial rule do not agree to this humanitarian intervention principle as they think it is a threat to their sovereignty.
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