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Legal Permissibility of Unilateral Humanitarian Interventions

Keywords: international law , UN Charter , human rights

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The paper explores the status of unilateral humanitarian interventions in international law. The United Nations Charter prohibits the use of force, except in case of self-defense and the collective action authorized by the Security Council. The question is whether the non-existence of unilateral humanitarian intervention among these exceptions means that they are not in conformity with the Charter and if so, whether the right to such interventions exists as the part of customary law. The issue has become even more controversial after the adoption of the “responsibility to protect” principle. Findings of legal scholars on this issue differ significantly. This paper analyzes and interprets the Charter provisions in order to answer the question of compatibility of humanitarian interventions with the Charter and examines the state practice in order to conclude whether the customary law rule allowing the humanitarian intervention exists. The conclusion of the paper is that there is no evidence to support the contentions that interventions without the Security Council authorization are permissible, although there are elements which point to the possibility of the creation of customary law allowing them.


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