Is Just Intervention Morally Obligatory?

The Future of Just War

Author/s (editor/s):

Luke Glanville

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Publication type:

Book chapter

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University of Georgia Press

Luke Glanville, ‘Is Just Intervention Morally Obligatory?’ in Caron E. Gentry and Amy E. Eckert, eds, The Future of Just War: New Critical Essays, Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2014, pp. 48-61.

In this chapter, I outline a defence of the claim that humanitarian intervention, where just, is morally obligatory. I consider some arguments in favour of this proposition and suggest that to the extent that intervention can ever be justified, it is obligatory by virtue of the duties-generating character of human rights. Although some have argued that such a duty is “imperfect” since it does not fall on any potential intervener in particular, I claim not only that the duty can in theory be “perfected” by appropriate and equitable distribution of obligations but that states, regional organisations, and international institutions already behave as if they recognise the duty to protect to be largely distributed in this way. The chapter, therefore, goes some way toward responding to claims long heard that we have only a minimal duty to assist and protect strangers and foreigners and that the duty ought to instead be understood as a discretionary right lest it impose an excessive burden upon particular actors.

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