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Humanitarian Action and Military Intervention: Temptations and Possibilities.

By F Weissman


Although the war in Liberia in July 2003 claimed hundreds of lives, the international community was reluctant to intervene. In this article, the author debates the question: does international military intervention equal protection of populations? The role of humanitarian organisations in military intervention is considered. Aid organisations cannot call for deployment of a protection force without renouncing their autonomy or appealing to references outside their own practices. Such organisations provide victims with vital assistance and contribute to ensuring that their fate becomes a stake in political debate by exposing the violence that engulfs them, without substituting their own voices for those of the victims. The political content of humanitarian action is also outlined and military intervention in the context of genocide is discussed. The author concludes that the latter is one of the rare situations in which humanitarian actors can consider calling for an armed intervention without renouncing their own logic

Publisher: Published by Wiley-Blackwell
Year: 2004
DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.0361-3666.2004.00253.x
OAI identifier: oai:fieldresearch.msf.org:10144/17736
Provided by: MSF Field Research

Suggested articles



  1. (1995). La Mésentente. Politique et Philosophie. Galilée, Paris; translated (1999) as Disagreement. Politics and Philosophy.
  2. (1996). La Responsibilité Humanitaire. Médecins Sans Frontières,
  3. (2002). La Sale petite guerre du Libéria (trans. Liberia’s dirty little war).
  4. (2004). Liberia: An Orchestrated Chaos.
  5. (1993). Liberia: Leave It to the Neighbours.
  6. (2004). Sierra Leone, Peace at Any Price.
  7. (1993). Somalia: Le Crime Humanitaire, Arléa, Paris; translated as Somalia: Humanitarian Aid Outgunned.
  8. (2004). The Sacrificial International Order and Humanitarian Action.

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