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Humanitarian Intervention, 2nd Edition

ISBN: 978-0-7456-5981-7
240 pages
April 2012, Polity
Humanitarian Intervention, 2nd Edition (0745659810) cover image


A singular development of the post Cold-War era is the use of military force to protect human beings. From Rwanda to Kosovo, Sierra Leone to East Timor, and more recently Libya to Côte d'Ivoire, soldiers have rescued some civilians in some of the world's most notorious war zones. Could more be saved? Drawing on over two decades of research, Thomas G. Weiss answers "yes" and provides a persuasive introduction to the theory and practice of humanitarian intervention in the modern world. He examines political, ethical, legal, strategic, economic, and operational dimensions and uses a wide range of cases to highlight key debates and controversies.

The updated and expanded second edition of this succinct and highly accessible survey is neither celebratory nor complacent. The author locates the normative evolution of what is increasingly known as "the responsibility to protect" in the context of the global war on terror, UN debates, and such international actions as Libya. The result is an engaging exploration of the current dilemmas and future challenges for robust international humanitarian action in the twenty-first century.

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Table of Contents

About the Author vi

Foreword to the Second Edition by Gareth Evans viii

Preface and Acknowledgments xiii

List of Abbreviations xviii

Introduction 1

1 Conceptual Building Blocks 6

2 "Humanitarian" Interventions: Thumbnail Sketches 34

3 New Wars and New Humanitarianisms 66

4 New Thinking: The Responsibility to Protect 97

5 So What? Moving from Rhetoric to Reality 133

Notes 174

Selected Readings 210

Index 215

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Author Information

Thomas G. Weiss is presidential professor of political science and director of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at the City University of New York Graduate Center.
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New to This Edition

Fully updated to incorporate recent developments such as the conflict in Libya
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The Wiley Advantage

  • A fully revised and updated new edition of the leading introduction to this important topic.
  • Written by one of the field's most renowned experts, this is an engaging and authoritative guide to the theory and practice of humanitarian intervention.
  • Draws on a wide range of contemporary cases and examples, including Libya and the Ivory Coast, to highlight key debates.
  • Perfect, thought-provoking reading for students approaching this topic for the first time.
  • Includes a foreword by Gareth Evans, President of the International Crisis Group
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"In Humanitarian Intervention: Ideas in Action, Tom Weiss again demonstrates his unique talent for bringing conceptual clarity and rigorous analysis to pressing and messy real-world dilemmas. Protecting endangered people abroad raises thorny issues - politically, practically, and ethically. In this engaging book, Weiss offers a conceptual guide to understanding these dilemmas, and his application of these concepts to contemporary humanitarian emergencies will be useful to both scholars and practitioners alike. This is an essential book for anyone interested in humanitarian action."
Martha Finnemore, George Washington University

"Few observers have written more, or more persuasively, than Professor Weiss, and this is his best work to date. A sensible, thorough and realistic treatment."
Fernando R. Tesóon, Florida State University College of Law

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