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American Diplomacy
Special Section

July 2001

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The Future of Humanitarian Intervention: A Special Report
by Scott L. Silliman

The Duke University Law School's Center on Law, Ethics and National Security (LENS), in conjunction with the University's Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Kenan Institute for Ethics, Global Capital Markets Center, and Center for European Studies, sponsored a major conference in Durham, North Carolina, USA, on April 19 and 20 of this year on the subject of The Future of Humanitarian Intervention. The five papers that are contained in this issue of American Diplomacy have been selected from among the many that were presented at that conference.

The issue of humanitarian intervention has generated considerable debate in academic and policy circles in this country and abroad, especially following NATO's intervention in Kosovo in 1999. That military operation, conducted without a supporting United Nations Security Council resolution, gave rise to questions regarding the tension that clearly exists between Article 2(7) of the United Nations Charter ("Nothing contained in the present Chapter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state...") and the acknowledged need to prevent wide scale human rights abuses by a government within its sovereign borders. Kosovo also highlighted the more specific issue of who the arbiter should be in determining when intervention is appropriate, as against less coercive means. The Duke conference took a unique interdisciplinary approach in focusing upon the nexus between law, policy. and ethics in exploring such topics as the history of humanitarian intervention, the policy reasons for and against its use, the current state of the law, whether legal or institutional reforms could facilitate the decision-making process, the role of regional organizations, and the rules of conduct to be applied during humanitarian interventions.

The Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, the conference organizer and principal sponsor, was founded at Duke University School of Law in 1993 for the purpose of encouraging and sponsoring teaching, research and publications concerning national security law topics; and also conducting conferences and seminars in the national security field. This it does not only in Durham, but also throughout the United States. On behalf of all of us associated with the Center, we are pleased to be able to collaborate with the staff of American Diplomacy in the publishing of these papers.

The Future of Humanitarian Intervention



The author is executive director of Duke University's Center on Law, Ethics and National Security. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retired from the U. S. Air Force as a colonel, he is a frequent commentator in the media on military law and national security issues.


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