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Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law [MPEPIL]

Humanitarian Intervention

Vaughan Lowe, Antonios Tzanakopoulos

Subject(s):
Humanitarian intervention — Armed attack — Armed conflict — Conduct of hostilities — Civil and political rights — Gross violations

Published under the auspices of the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law under the direction of Rüdiger Wolfrum.

1 Intervention has been characterized as one of the ‘vaguest branches of international law’ and one whose study may leave ‘the impression that intervention may be anything from a speech of Lord Palmerston’s in the House of Commons to the partition of Poland’ ( PH Winfield ‘The History of Intervention in International Law’ [1922] 3 BYIL 130 ). Its limitation to ‘humanitarian intervention’ does little to facilitate greater precision. 2 At the outset, one might distinguish between forcible and non-forcible ‘humanitarian’ intervention. There are non-forcible actions,...
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