In a study which proceeds along the lines of both philosophy and international law and established precedents of various international organizations and conventions, the author deals with the thorny issue of ‘human rights intervention’ and demonstrates that what may be a simple or self-reflexive concept in the abstract is, from the standpoint of actual historical implementation, problematic and extremely political. The article deals with cases from the Congo to Kosovo and examines these in light of the UN Charter as well as the International Court of Justice in order to demonstrate asymmetry and the ambiguities and contradictions as well as the political expedience inherent in both interpretation of law and in the actual cases of ‘humanitarian intervention’. The legal basis and efficacy of unilateral ‘humanitarian intervention’ are challenged in depth.

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