Authorizing Humanitarian Intervention “The Clinton

George W. Bush made the Bolton appointment while the Senate had been dismissed for holiday and only then. Even conservatives in the U.S. Senate were never warm to the rhetoric of Bolton. He was rude, pushy, and the most anti-United Nations ambassador in the history of American diplomacy. In fact Bolton wanted the U.S. To pull out of the UN at one point. It was difficult to imagine why a U.S. president, even a conservative president, would seek to appoint a man with such a shrill, ostentatiously hostile attitude about the institution he was appointed to serve.

In his critique of Boltons book (Surrender is not an Option), Richard Gowan (associate director for policy at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University) notes that Bolton famously stated: “The United Nations to this day remains the UN of UNICEF trick-or-treating on Halloween” (Gowan, 2008, p. 502). Bolton alluded to Europeans as “EUroids” and he attacked his department superiors (Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice) for participating in dialogue that preceded Bushs invasion of Iraq. As to members of the U.S. Senate that supported six-party talks on North Korea, Bolton called them “Munchkins” — much as a little bully in middle school somewhere would call students he was hoping to induce into a fistfight.

The point of bringing up Bolton is that Badescu rightly should have pointed out that not all American dealings through and with the UN have been arrogant and self-serving; and by failing to mention extremely bad actors like Bolton, she does her readers a disservice.

Meantime, on page 59 Badescu explains that there may be alternatives to states having to go through the UN, especially in cases where the Security Council is deadlocked, as often is the case, in a paralyzing stalemate of political wrangling and stalling. That solution is to use the General Assembly, as an alternative to the Security Council. Articles 10 and 11 of the UN Charter state that the General Assembly has a “responsibility regarding matters related to the maintenance of international peace and security” (Badescu, p. 59). When the Security Council is “unable or unwilling” to effectively deal with a humanitarian issue, the General Assembly can then meet in emergency session under “Uniting for Peace” procedure and with a two-thirds vote on the assembly floor, can indeed pass a resolution authorizing the use of force “for human protection purposes,” Badescu continues on page 59.

Moreover, the author also asserts that Article 51 in the Charter explains that regional organizations may use force without prior UN authorizations — indeed regional states may act in self-defense or in what the UN Charter refers to as “collective self-defense” (p. 60). Admitting that Article 51 is not really totally clear, Badescu also mentions Article 52, which supports the “responsibilities of regional arrangements”; the article states, albeit somewhat vaguely, that “nothing in the Charter should preclude the existence of regional arrangement or agencies for dealing with such matters related to the maintenance of international peace and security as are appropriate for regional action” (Badescu, p.


But the next question logically should be, what is appropriate and what is inappropriate when it comes to an armed invasion in the name of an alleged humanitarian cause? It would appear that this alternative opens the door to some corrupt manipulations of UN narrative. Another way of justifying the use of force in humanitarian-based warfare would be in a case that was narrowly defeated in the General Assembly, Badescu explains, that would “strengthen its legitimacy” (p. 62).


Reading through the article closely, one wonders why Badescu — with an entire paper devoted to interventions — refuses to reference the specific invasion of Iraq by the George W. Bush Administration. Granted, there was no obvious humanitarian purpose to the Bush decision to invade Iraq, except for the shaky assertion that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear program in the works — an assertion that later turned out to be fabricated — and could nuke neighbors.

“Even a superpower like the U.S. would hesitate before interveningbecause of the increased importance of the perceived legitimacy of an intervention,” she writes. Indeed, she goes on, what the world regards as legitimate has become of significant concern. There was nothing whatsoever legitimate about the U.S. invasion of Iraq and Badescu should have pointed that out. Still, that said, the Badescu research article is a valuable and important tool for those who wish to pursue the background on why the UN is an important first stop for states that want to intervene in another country on alleged humanitarian grounds. Badescu could have added some more specific narrative to bring the reader closer to the emotions of some of the clashes she alludes to, and moreover she could have taken a stronger position herself.

Works Cited

Badescu, Christina G. (2007). Authorizing Humanitarian Intervention: Hard Choices in Saving

Strangers. Canadian Journal of Political Science. 40(1), 51-78.

Berdal, Mats. (2005). The United Nations, peacebuilding, and the genocide in Rwanda.

Global Governance, 11(1), 115-131.

Clarke, Walter, and Herbst, Jeffrey. (1996). Somalia: lessons from a humanitarian intervention.

Current, No. 382, 10-17.

Dallaire, Romeo. (2003). Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda.

Toronto: Random House Canada.

Dallaire, Romeo. (2010). The U.N. is.

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