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Éthique et politique de l’intervention humanitaire armée

Critique internationale, 39, avril-juin 2008, 161-182.


Armed humanitarian intervention, also covered by the concepts of "right” or “duty to interfere" and "duty to protect," is a military intervention in foreign territory that aims to put a stop to serious and widespread human rights violations. This practice being defined according to its aim, in order to be humanitarian, armed intervention depends entirely on the "rightful intention" of the intervening state, a rationale that tends to underestimate the weight of politics in the ethics of intervention. But to what extent, and how far, should the intervening state be disinterested? This article sets out first of all to offer a realist critique of the traditional criterion of "rightful intention" and suggests that the "disinterested" requirement of the intervening state be discarded. It then examines the case of Iraq, wondering whether it can be considered as a humanitarian intervention. It goes on to reconstruct a pragmatic and essentially consequentialist ethic of humanitarian intervention without the "rightful intention" criterion, but based on a dual evaluation that would avoid or at least limit the use of the humanitarian label as a pretext

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