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The Legality of Unilateral Humanitarian Intervention – A Defence

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image of Nordic Journal of International Law

On March 24, 1999 NATO entered Kosovo. This was a response to months in which the world had witnessed the commission of large-scale atrocities against civilians. During this period, the Security Council was not able to find common ground and became a victim of its own voting procedure. NATO's attempt to end the massive human rights violations in Kosovo by means of military force has revived the classical discussion of the legality of unilateral humanitarian intervention.

The case is currently pending before the International Court of Justice. The Court has touched upon the issue of humanitarian intervention in one previous case, where it found in general that questions of human rights “are questions of domestic policy”, and that “the use of force could not be the appropriate method to monitor or ensure … respect for [human rights]”. It is in the opinion of the authors far from certain that the Court will uphold its position in the current case.

Affiliations: 1: Ministry of Research and Information Technology, Denmark; 2: Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Denmark


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