18 Apr 2022


Humanitarian Intervention Comes of Age

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Humanitarian activities are acts that are geared towards the reduction of human suffering. For an individual, it may not be as easy for any of this impact to be made, and therefore, most of the work is done in organizations such as by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which acquires resources in as well as a workforce to carry out large forms of assistance work (Jon & Joshua, 2011). Such establishments dedicate their efforts to countries suffering from war, disease, and drought amongst other calamities. They have to consider to which countries they offer their support because in the process, they usually stand to lose the lives of military men as well as aid workers who volunteer to work on the ground. This situation would alter their effectiveness and the trust that world leaders and citizens have in their ability to bring change. Humanitarian activities bring change to the perception of violence in the world, and this can be confirmed by an analysis of the article ‘Humanitarian Intervention Comes of Age’.

Impact of Humanitarian Activities

Since it begun of its humanitarian work, right after the cold war, NATO has succeeded with regards to the same, and to a great extent. They pride themselves in the ability to protect citizens from rebel groups and political strongmen in countries such as Bosnia and Serbia. Saving ordinary people from the ugly nature that constitutes war such as theft, mass killings, rape, and displacement is crucial because often, most of them are not trained to survive in such circumstances. Their intervention in scenarios around the world has reduced instances of violence by 40% (Jon & Joshua, 2011). Disputes between political leaders are now handled peacefully in the courts at The Hague or through mediation rather than by guerrilla warfare.

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Intervention during war and conflicts has also assisted in transitions from one system of leadership to another. The history of humanitarian activities by NATO was the triumph of democracy over communism, which had been championed by Warsaw Pact signatories. Therefore, the organization is dedicated to helping those in oppressive governments create a working system. Libya’s transition from Mummer Gaddafi’s leadership is one example of a continuous progress motivated by military assistance from countries such as the United States. The coverage of such war stories in the media has changed the perspective of violence from a gruesome act to a means for protection. Most critics assume that the fighting of rebels, coupled with the use of guns as a tool for the protection of a subdued people only but increases the number of casualties. However, people have seen the brutality that ordinary citizens face in the hand of tyrant leadership and aggressive rebels. Now, the attitude is more of a responsibility to protect civilian populations at all costs.

Critic Views

Critics often put down the efforts of such humanitarian missions and paint all their actions in such poor light. There is a view that these missions concern the excessive use of resources and human labor in fights that do not involve the United Nations or any of the contracted countries that get involved. These funds are believed to motivate rebels to fight and attack peacekeepers since they want the food, weapons, and money involved for themselves. The Darfur conflict could be cited as an example here, as in Darfur the Al-Shabaab have increased their attacks on United Nation soldiers as well as on neighboring countries who support the humanitarians involved, for instance, Kenya. From a theoretical standpoint, this reasoning is sensible but practically speaking, violence reduces with intervention. Rebels protect their troops, meaning their minimal tools and finances are focused on defense rather than on causing harm. There are no incentives for the oppressive party (Reaves, Schor & Burkle, 2008). They are aware of the strengths that these intervening nations have and therefore are more threatened by the presence of these commissioned peacekeepers. The Central African Republic is currently experiencing a political transition period that was only attainable through the efforts of the United Nations soldier’s and their efforts to smoke out rebels.

Others hold the opinion that there are no long-term effects to the kind acts by these large establishments. Examples of Rwanda in 1994 where Belgian soldiers were killed causing retreat and living civilians to fend for themselves the Central African Republic that most predict will crumble upon the exit of the United Nation troops. In October of 1993, 18 United States soldiers died violently in the ‘Black Hawk Dawn’ operation leaving the US vulnerable to attack (Jon & Joshua, 2011). In both cases, the countries are left in severe turmoil since the invading countries had underestimated the situation and had thusly, had no fallback strategy if things were to not go as planned. However, the NATO community and other organizations have learned lessons from such failures and taken strides to ensure that the issues do not reoccur. Better management and protection tools that do not involve the use of force are designed as a first approach to dealing with political instability in a country.

Lessons learned from past experiences

According to the article, many lessons are recorded in terms of the successes and failures that are a part of humanitarian history. One lesson is the importance of legitimacy. It is crucial to justify actions and approaches based on rules and proper reasoning. Essentially, interventionist acts put many lives at risk, from those one of the besieged citizens to those ones of the peacekeepers. There are cases where the US military has had to justify actions such as bombings and airstrikes in which civilians have perished. For every action, justification and results are significant as others may deem the actions self-motivated (Cameron, 2006). The sooner the intervention, the more effective the prevention of violence is also another lessons. In the past, it took long to assess the situation meaning by the time a third party intervened the situation and damage are beyond repair.

Opposition usually is expected during humanitarian activities. Most communities remain resentful from the eras of slavery and colonization and have the notion that Western world intervention means the realization of selfish Western world dreams. Therefore, they resist close to all forms of Western help because they take them to be acts of manipulation. The strategy to deal with this is transparency in all instances, together with the maintenance of records of all confrontations, as naysayers will tend to look for any excuse to sabotage progress. Political issues affect humanitarian activities as politicians incite their followers against help and slow down the process of issuing food and water to those who need it. It is up to the activists to do the best they can with the little access they are allowed (Rubenstein & Stark, 2017).


Cameron, L. (2006). Private military companies: their status under international humanitarian law and its impact on their regulation. International Review of the Red Cross

Jon W and Joshua S., (2011) Humanitarian Intervention Comes of Age;Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2011-11-01/humanitarian-intervention-comes-age

Reaves, E. J., Schor, K. W., & Burkle, F. M. (2008). Implementation of evidence-based humanitarian programs in military-led missions: part II. The impact assessment model. Disaster medicine and public health preparedness .

Rubenstein, B. L., & Stark, L. (2017). The impact of humanitarian emergencies on the prevalence of violence against children: an evidence-based ecological framework. Psychology, health & medicine .

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