Intervening Without the UN: A Rejoinder

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Eide, Espen Barth (1999) Intervening Without the UN: A Rejoinder , Security Dialogue 30(1): 91–94.

There is a rapidly evolving tendency on the part of certain major powers to act militarily on behalf of an alleged common cause but without express mandates from the UNSC. The airstrikes against Iraq may be the most obvious case in point, but not the only one. On 12 October 1998, the North Atlantic Council of NATO unanimously voted for an activation order which authorized the use of air power against military installations in Yugoslavia over the issue of Kosovo. Within NATO, considerable concern has been voiced about the wisdom of the Kosovo policy. All NATO members agree on the need for contributing to a solution to the Kosovo crisis and to ensure that Yugoslavia's president is finally brought to comply with the demands of the international community. There is significantly less agreement on whether NATO should be seen as holding some kind of general right to oversee humanitarian interventions outside its own area. This is an issue of great importance, and not only for the European 'security architecture' currently in the making. Forceful action may create a precedent for self-justification, which is the fundamental problem with humanitarian interventions that are not collectively mandated. Merely referring to a good cause cannot provide sufficient justification.