Humanitarian Intervention in Kosovo: The Importance of Legal and Moral Issues
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Humanitarian Intervention in Kosovo: The Importance of Legal and Moral Issues

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Helene A. Carras
246x189x4 mm

During 1999, NATO instituted a bombing campaign and other military operations against the former Yugoslavia (Kosovo) in order to restore peace and prevent their humanitarian crisis from causing further conflicts within the Balkans. The justification for these operations was to secure international peace and security in the region and to ensure the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia complied with peace demands made by the Security Council. The debate in the international community arose whether the bombing was justified in order to quell the humanitarian crisis. As a humanitarian intervention, it entails complicated legal and moral issues that support this justification. Understanding the legal and moral issues in conflict is important and should be considered by military planners and policy makers. The Kosovo conflict, as a "humanitarian intervention" provides a case study for such an analysis. The legal issues in this monograph are focused on the International Court of Justice case of May 1999, Yugoslavia vs. the United States. The court case brought out that the law is unclear whether humanitarian purposes override use of force under Articles 2(4), 51, and 53. There are also some provisions under customary and traditional law that leave this question open to future interpretation depending on the prevailing political situation. A review of the literature shows that moral arguments for the intervention had and can have a large effect on support or lack thereof, in the US and in the international community. This can contribute to the swift initiation or the termination of a humanitarian intervention. These considerations are applicable to 2007 and beyond, when military planners and policy makers will need to apply a legal and moral lens to viewing and understanding conflict.

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