v16_2005b - Moving Beyond Kosovo: Envisioning A Coherent...

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1 Moving Beyond Kosovo: Envisioning A Coherent Theory of Humanitarian Intervention 7 1 Matthew Perault is a joint degree candidate in Law and Public Policy at the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy and Duke University School of Law, Duke University (matthew.perault@duke.edu). M OVING B EYOND K OSOVO : E NVISIONING A C OHERENT T HEORY OF H UMANITARIAN I NTERVENTION Matthew Perault This paper uses the Kosovo bombing of 1999 as a starting point for imagining a sustainable, coherent theory of humanitarian intervention. The paper presents three principal problems of the Kosovo bombing—coherence, legality, and tactics—and describes their impact on the legitimacy of intervention and on human welfare. It then suggests three primary types of reforms that might assist in creating a more coherent logic of intervention: structural reform, coercion, and acculturation. Such reforms might assist the international community in responding more consistently and reliably to crisis situations across the globe. 1 K OSOVO : H UMANITARIAN I NTERVENTION AND I TS A FTERMATH Although President Clinton used every ounce of his famously inFnite reservoir of charisma to persuade the American people of the need for intervention in Kosovo, he never managed to develop a convincing argu- ment that the bombing of Serbia and Montenegro in 1999 was either necessary or humanitarian. He emphasized the consequences for Euro- pean stability of a Kosovo refugee crisis, he described the importance of promoting democracy in Southeastern Europe, and he speculated about
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2 Matthew Perault the pernicious impact of further fragmentation in the former Yugoslavia. None of these reasons fully convinced U.S. citizens of the necessity of war. Both houses of Congress passed resolutions supporting the bombing, but the relatively narrow margins of victory reflected the intensity of domestic divisions over the conflict. 2 Additionally, the international community expressed ambivalence about the intervention. The UN Security Council would not authorize NATO bombing, so NATO proceeded independently, without its support. The decision to act outside the bounds of the UN raised questions about the future legitimacy of the organization and its capacity to handle interna- tional crises requiring swift, strong action. Even UN Secretary-General KoF Annan expressed doubts about the future of the UN if it could not act decisively to protect human rights: “Unless the Security Council can unite around the aim of confronting massive human rights violations and crimes against humanity on the scale of Kosovo, then we will betray the very ideals that inspired the founding of the United Nations” (Annan in Buckley 2000, 222). The Kosovo intervention reflected a transformation in the principles of
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v16_2005b - Moving Beyond Kosovo: Envisioning A Coherent...

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