Rejecting Customary Regression: Unilateral Humanitarian Intervention & the Evolution of Customary International Law

Humanitarian intervention is perhaps one of the most important topics in international affairs. It raises questions of morality and militarism, becoming a platform for sharp debate in international law. This note discusses both the moral and legal questions presented by unilateral humanitarian intervention (“UHI”). It argues that UHI is antithetical to the progression of customary international law due to customary international law’s evolutive nature and the ongoing importance of decolonization. UHI is not only normatively undesirable, but the particular normative criticisms of the doctrine – that it is regressively imperialist and neo-colonial – render it fundamentally incompatible with customary international law.