u m a n i t a rian interven ti on is usu-a lly discussed as an excepti on tothe non i n terven ti on pri n c i p l e .According to this pri n c ip le ,st a tes are for-
bid den to exercise their aut h ori ty,and cer-t a i n ly to use force,within the ju ri s d i cti onofo t h er state s .The principle finds firmsu pport in the Un i ted Na ti ons Ch a rter,wh ich permits a state to defend itsel ff roma t t ack but forbids the use ofa rm ed forceagainst the terri torial integri ty or po li ti c a li n depen dence ofot h er state s .Ta ken literal-
ly,these provi s i ons pro h i bit arm ed inter-ven ti on ,i n cluding interven ti on to pro tecthuman ri gh t s .And in gen eral ,hum a ni ta ri-
an interven ti on finds scant su pport inm odern intern a ti onal law.There is,however,a much older traditionin which the use offorce is justiﬁed not onlyin sel f - defense but also to punish wron gsand protect the innocent.This tradition is ins ome ten s i on with modern intern a ti on a llaw and especially with the UN Charter.It
holds that armed intervention is permissibleto en force standards ofc ivi l i zed con du ctwh en ru l ers vi o l a te those standard s ,a n dfinds ex pre s s i on tod ay in the wi dely hel dop i n i on that state s ,acting unilatera lly orcollectively,are justiﬁed in enforcing respect
The Moral Basis ofHumanitarianIntervention
Ifone person is able to save another and does not save him,he transgresses the commandment,Neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood ofthy neighbor.
To those for whom the greatest threat to the future ofinternational order is the use offorce in theabsence ofa Security Council mandate,one might say: leave Kosovo aside for a moment,andthink about Rwanda.Imagine for one moment that,in those dark days and hours leading up tothe genocide,there had been a coalition ofstates ready and willing to act in defense ofthe Tutsipopulation,but the Council had refused or delayed giving the green light.Should such a coali-tion then have stood idly by while the horror unfolded?
UN Secretary-General KoﬁAnnan
* Earlier versions ofthis paper were pres ented at the
Travers Ethics Conference,University ofCalifornia at
Berkeley in December
;a symposium sponsored bythe Center for Global Peace and Conﬂict Studies at theUn ivers i ty ofCa l i fornia at Irvine in May
2 0 0 0
;t h ean nual meeting ofthe Intern ati onal Studies As soc i a-
tion in February
,and conferences hosted by theCenter for European Studies and the Carr Center for
Human Rights Policy at Harvard University in Januaryand Septem ber
.I am gra teful to participants inthese events and to the editors and reviewers of
Ethics& International Affairs
for helpful criticism and advice.
,astranslated by Hyman Klein in
The Code ofMaimonides,
Book Eleven: The Book ofTorts
,Yale Judaica Series,vol.
(New Haven:Yale University Press,
The Secretary-General’s Annual Report to the General
(UN Press Release SG/SM
).Also published as “Two Concepts of
Ethics &International Af f airs
1 6 ,n o.2.© 2002 by Carnegie Council on Ethics andInternational Af f airs.