Researching Humanitarian Intervention: Some Lessons

Journal article

Weiss, Thomas G. (2001) Researching Humanitarian Intervention: Some Lessons, Journal of Peace Research 38 (4): 419–428.

This article calls into question how much 'learning' from humanitarian catastrophes has actually taken place in the last decade - if 'learning' entails fundamental changes in the ways that international responses are mounted. Eight lessons are offered for authors doing both scholarly and policy research. Three relate to the causal impact of humanitarian values (recognizing importance of ideas; distinguishing first- and second-order principles; avoiding political correctness). And five concern specific pleas for clarification in analyses (avoiding 'international community'; distinguishing the roles of IGOs; rejecting best-case scenarios; moving beyond paralysis by analysis; taking care about extrapolation from today's headlines). Too much attention is paid to the differences among scholars, policy analysts, and journalists; and too little to the common ground that they occupy. Modesty is a good point of departure for the post-post-Cold War era.

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