Humanitarian Intervention
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Level: Undergraduate
Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Undergraduate Studies
Department: Social Sciences
Course Number: NPOL 3245
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Politics
The latest Syrian crisis has reopened the debate on interventions (or missing interventions) in internal conflicts with the declared goal to stop mass killing and genocide. Today, as at the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, this type of intervention poses serious challenges to accepted notions of state sovereignty, national interest, human rights and war. When and how is it just to intervene? Why do interventions happen in some cases and not in others that are equally grave? If intervention is not a right but a responsibility, what is the force of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) as an emerging norm? What are the outcomes of intervention or the lack of it? This class provides an analytical framework to address these questions by exploring the political, legal and ethical aspects of intervention in the context of the post-Cold War world. It takes a case-study approach, focusing on countries where the decision was made to use (or not to use) force to stop mass atrocities: Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, East Timor, Rwanda, Darfur, Libya and Syria. There will also be some discussion of the cases of Afghanistan and Iraq, where intervention to protect human rights became an additional ad bellum cause and later an integral part of state building. The overall focus of the class is on the complex relationship between humanitarianism and war.
Course Open to: Degree Students


Open to Undergraduate students.