nl en

Humanitarian Intervention



Purpose: Providing an analytical foundation for the exploration of one of the most controversial issues in International Relations since the end of the Cold War: humanitarian intervention. The War on Terror has made this debate even more topical.

Content: During this seminar students will gain an understanding of the political, moral and legal dilemmas in contemporary debates on sovereignty and intervention. We will critically analyse diverging views on the ethics of using force to end humanitarian emergencies. Next to a political science perspective, we will discuss the possible legal grounds for or against humanitarian intervention, as provided for instance by the UN Charter. These conceptual ideas and theoretical perspectives will subsequently be linked to specific case studies both during and after the Cold War. An examination of these interventions may tell us something about broader trends in international politics regarding the fundamental tension between state sovereignty and human rights.

Methods of Instruction

The course is based on active student participation. In the first part of the seminar the weekly meetings will take the form of a structured discussion. This entails an introduction by the instructor, supplemented by contributions of students on the basis of the readings assigned for each meeting. In the second part, students write a research paper and give oral presentations on selected case studies of (humanitarian) intervention, making use of the framework elaborated in the first part.


Reader available through readeronline (homepage FSW)




Friday 7 February until 23 May, 11.00-13.00 in 1A22 (no class on 18 April)