The Complexities of Humanitarian Intervention: A New World Order Challenge

The interplay between juridical support for norms of non-intervention and the actualities of interventionary diplomacy is an integral feature of a world of sovereign, yet unequal, states pursuing diverse goals. Pointing in one direction is the juridical stress on sovereignty, reinforced by spatial notions of territorial supremacy within fixed boundaries, which provides the doctrinal underpinnings of non-interventionism. Pointing in the other direction is the effort to project power and influence beyond territorial sovereignty, virtually a definition of what distinguishes a great power from an ordinary state, which creates the geopolitical pressures that result in intervention in the internal and external affairs of weaker sovereign states. This essay assesses the nature of change in interventionary diplomacy since the end of the Cold War against this conceptual background.