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Humanitarian Intervention Yesterday and Today: A History

Alexis Heraclides



Humanitarian intervention is not limited to the post-Cold War years but has a longer history. This article tries to present a history of this controversial concept from its original roots until today. The aim is to address the question of the progenitor or progenitors of the idea in the Renaissance, which is a matter of controversy and to highlight the heyday of the concept in the nineteenth century, where the concept was formally developed and debated within international law. We shall emphasise the arguments for or against humanitarian intervention, indicating, among others, their similarities with today’s debate. Brief reference is also made to international political theory and intervention, mainly to the views of Kant and John Stuart Mill. The last part of the article deals with the Cold War and the post-Cold War era, and concludes by referring to the main issues discussed in the present heated discussion on humanitarian intervention.

Keywords: international law, humanity, non-intervention, sovereignty, tyranny, massacres


Bibliography: Heraclides, Alexis: Humanitarian Intervention Yesterday and Today: A History, ERIS, 1-2015, pp. 15-37.


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