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"Minimal Solidarism": Post-Cold War responses to humanitarian crisis
Linköping University, Department of Management and Economics.
2005 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Magister)Student thesis
Abstract [en]

The issue of humanitarian intervention presents a perennial conundrum and is one of the hottest topics in contemporary international relations. It contains aspects of both idealism and realism and is largely an issue born out of the end of the Cold War. This paper provides a theoretical and empirical evaluation of this normative shift in interstate affairs.

The vast growing body of human rights law serves as one indication that international law is changing in terms of a shift of focus, away from states, and towards the international community made up of individuals. However, in absence of a formal agreement on how and to what scope international law has changed, conclusions can only be made based on the emerging, limited and fragile body of state and UN practices. If such a shift were to be accompanied by a corresponding empirical transformation, it would undoubtedly represent a huge leap forward towards a more solidarist underpinned world order. The present trends within international relations represent at least an aspiration towards some more clearly envisioned solidarity. As international actors interact, they generate new norms, but one must remember that the actors and their practices are themselves products of older norms. The present structures of international society are not ready to accommodate such change.

Human rights are important, not only because they become embedded in institutions and create new coalitions between actors, but also because they help states redefine their national interests and identities, as well as help them to choose among conflicting priorities such as sovereignty and humanity. Under the present global system, any discussion of the international protection of human rights and humanitarian intervention implies changes in both norms and practices. The theoretical part of this paper provides a framework for assessing these recent developments by determining first, how and why values are shared, and what these values need to be in order for international society to be categorized as solidarist. The empirical part, then moves on to assess state and UN practice in order to conclude if solidarism is a reality in today’s international society.

In this paper, I argue that there is an international consensus in terms of a right to humanitarian intervention in cases of threats against international peace and security and where the UN S.C has given its authorization. Furthermore, even though not clearly establishing any such right to intervention, cases like East Timor, northern Iraq and Kosovo points to a normative shift where the redefinition of the concept of sovereignty might become a reality. This new consensus is a product of mainly three recent developments: a more expansive interpretation of the S.C on what constitutes a threat to international peace and security, the revolution of information technology that has heightened awareness of conflict and suffering, and the increased robustness of international human rights norms. While diversity continues to characterize the 21st century, there is a greater degree of consensus on the meaning of sovereignty and human rights today than most pluralists suggest. Nevertheless, the practical behaviour of the international community shows that the commitment to solidarism remains minimal.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Ekonomiska institutionen , 2005. , 77 p.
Keyword [en]
Solidarism, minimal solidarism, human rights, humanitarian intervention, international society, post-Cold War, normative shift, international relations, international community, humanitarianism.
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-4451ISRN: LIU-EKI/INT-D--05/022--SEOAI: diva2:20628
Available from: 2005-10-25 Created: 2005-10-25

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