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Humanitarian Intervention and Peacebuilding


Admission requirements

This course is designed for the minor Global Affairs. It is not possible to follow single courses of this minor. You need to be enrolled in Usis for the minor to be accepted to this course. There are 300 places open for registration, on a first come first serve basis, where LDE students are given priority.

This course is also open for inbound exchange students if they wish to take the entire minor Global Affairs; it is not possible to take single courses from this minor. Exchange students must be admitted by the FGGA International Office prior to the start of the minor; priority will be given to direct exchange partners of FGGA. For more information about the application procedure for exchange students, please contact the FGGA International Office at


The aim of this course is to provide students with a BA level knowledge of the political and military debates surrounding contemporary humanitarian intervention and international peace operations. The role that military deployments can play in protecting human rights in cases of genocide and ethnic cleansing has been hotly disputed throughout the 1990s and beyond. This course will introduce students to some of the major contemporary debates within international peace operations literature and enable students to critically assess their strengths and limitations.

During this course, students will discuss various interventions in a globalised and changing world. The main questions will be: What kinds of humanitarian interventions have taken place in the last decades? What is the meaning of humanitarian intervention and the responsibility to protect? What is the role of the United Nations and other international organizations? What is the potential role of the military instrument in effectuating humanitarian intervention?

This course will focus on three main types of interventions: peacekeeping, peace enforcement and post-conflict peacebuilding (statebuilding). Topics include the history and development of peace operations, theory development concerning peacekeeping, peace enforcement and statebuilding and critical analysis of recent peacekeeping and statebuilding missions that demonstrate the ongoing dialectic process between theory and doctrine development, and application and practical experience, thus highlighting the tension between ambition and the harsh realities of complex peacekeeping and statebuilding missions.

Course objectives

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • To explain the evolution, politics and effectiveness of UN peacekeeping in the post-Cold War period

  • To explain the meaning, key characteristics and differences of the three main types of intervention: peace-keeping, peace enforcement and statebuilding

  • To explain how the reality of humanitarian interventions often frustrates achieving the political objectives of humanitarian interventions

  • To explain the role of the military instrument in such missions

  • To explain the (debates on the) utility of force in such contexts for both spoiler parties and the intervention force

  • To explain key arguments that exist within the political and academic debates that argue either for or against humanitarian intervention


The timetable will be displayed with a link on the website, Brightspace and on the front page of this minor programma.

The schedule 2020 will be published asap.

Mode of instruction

The course will consist of lectures and guest lectures.

The total study load for this course is 140 hours, consisting of:

  • 21 hours for attending lectures

  • 119 hours studying the compulsory literature and working on assignments

Participation in lectures, discussions and exercises is required in order to obtain a grade. One lecture may be missed. Being absent more than once may likely lead to expulsion from the course.

Assessment method

Midterm exam

  • 25% of total grade

  • Resit not possible

  • Grade can be compensated

Final Paper

  • 75% of total grade

  • Resit possible

  • Resit will take the same form

  • Grade must be 5.50 or higher to pass the course
    Students will be permitted to resit the 75% final paper if they have a calculated overall course grade lower than 5.50 or with permission of the Board of Examiners. The midterm exam needs to be compensated.

Late hand in penalty: 0,5 minus per day, and after seven days we do not accept papers any longer.

The Course and Examination Regulation Security Studies and the Rules and Regulation of the Board of Examiners of the Institute of Security and Global Affairs apply.

Reading list

TBA on Brightspace


Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course, after registration for the entire minor.
Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. Important information about the course is posted here.
After enrollment for the course in uSis you are also enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.



All sessions will be in English.
Papers need to be written in English.