The Liberal Internationalism perspective is focused on arguments in favor of intervention based on humanitarian grounds. People in support of this idea believe that there is a moral obligation of humans to both end and prevent gross human rights violations on innocent people. Also, it would be argued from this viewpoint, that at times, the use of force and intervention are the only means of protecting and enforcing standards of civilized treatment on people. At times, the oppression can reach such a stage that any national connection between the population and the state has been lost.
Therefore, in these situations, the argument of state sovereignty becomes invalid. A utilitarian perspective would argue that interventions are justified because of the fact that often, more lives are being saved that lost, and that essentially makes the cost worth it. Furthermore, it as argued that if the conflicts continue without intervention, there is a higher probability that instability will spread to neighboring regions, also, that these conflicts can become concerns for international security.
Ignatieff (2002) argues the claim the throughout the 1990s, the United States viewed Afghanistan as a humanitarian crisis zone, whilst failing to acknowledge that it was becoming a training ground for terror and international security threats. In today’s world, a major part of foreign relations of democratic states is the motivation to spread democratic values in order to expand the liberal realm of peace keeping (Clark, 1999: 148).
Supporters of Liberal internationalists believe that a strong international government is essential to managing international peace, and this is done by promoting universal human rights (Dunne, 2001; Richardson, 1997). Following the argument that intervention through force can enhance security for liberal states, Francis Fukuyama states that, ‘the fact is that the chief threats to us and to the world order come today from weak, collapsed, or failed states.
Weak or absent government institutions in developing countries form the thread linking terrorism, refuges, AIDS, and global poverty’ (—). Fukuyama believes that once democracy is in place, a more stable country will follow: “A lot now rides on our ability not just to win wars but to help create self-sustaining democratic political institutions and robust market-oriented economies. However, it should be noted that regarding this argument, it is difficult to be certain if a weakened state actually poses a true threat, as well as the issue with who is responsible with making the decision of the level of posed threat (—). One of the biggest questions centered on liberal peace theory and international relations is the discussion of the legal rights of humanitarian intervention, specifically focused on moral authority and legal and political legitimacy.
In today’s global political climate, this question is particularly important in relation to when legalities of international society is state based security concerns, rather than focused on the individual in liberal peace theory (——-). Typically, non-Western states have opposed intervention, on the basis of being skeptical on the grounds of moral justification and the possibility of undermining the sovereign rights of individual states. Furthermore, the issue of a coercive, Western dominated international order is also a topic of issue among skeptics (—)
In response to the demand for international consensus around the issues involved with humanitarian intervention, the International Commission on intervention and State Sovereignty was established (——). The Commission claimed that its purpose was to ‘build a broader understanding of the problem of reconciling intervention for human protection purposes and sovereignty,’ within the Commission was also the creation of the “responsibility to protect”(—).
The “Responsibility to Protect” has three main pillars: 1) states have the primary responsibility to protect their citizens from crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and war crimes, 2) the international community has the responsibility to assist states in fulfilling their responsibility to protect citizens, and 3) the international community has the responsibility to react to human rights violations if states are unable or unwilling to fulfill their responsibility through political or economic sanctions, and use force as a last resort (—-40—-).
The growth within the community of NGOs has also played a very large role in the response to crisis in humanitarian interventions. NGOs have been able to raise awareness of certain situations and at times have successfully called for direct action from the military and international community (Roberts, 2000). When the responsibility to protect was created, it was written under the claim the state sovereignty was seen as a responsibility, the ICISS report states that “State sovereignty implies responsibility and the primary responsibility for the protection of its people lies with the state itself” (—42).
Therefore, this claim means that if a state is either unwilling or unable to protect its own citizens, then it becomes the international communities responsibility to do so (—43—). Considering this, it can be said that the responsibility to protect brought with it a new understanding of state sovereignty, putting emphasis on the state to manage its internal affairs. The change in language presented in the ICISS holds strong value as well. Altering the phrase “the right to protect” to “the responsibility to protect shifted the thought process along with the concept.
This change allowed for emphasis to be placed on victims of human rights violations, rather than the intervening states who may be acting in their own national interests (–44–). “The whole point of embracing the new language of the “responsibility to protect” is that it is capable of generating an effective, consensual response to extreme, conscious-shocking cases in a way that ‘right to intervene” language simply could not (Evans—45—).
However, it is important to acknowledge that it is not possible to apply all arguments and beliefs to all circumstances found in the international community. Some scholars point out the it becomes inevitable that some selectivity will become evident when it comes to intervention (Nardin, 2002). Typically, the outside forces play an important role in removing a threat to international peace, whether that threat is a particular person or a regime (Doyle, 2001); intervention in Germany post WWII and overthrowing Saddam Hussein are both examples of this.
It is quite easy to connect the foundations of the responsibility to protect to the liberal interventionist theory. Both ideas embrace human rights as a core importance in global relations. Furthermore, the responsibility to protect emphasizes the need for international cooperation of states to act if a nation fails to fulfill their responsibility of protecting their citizens. The idea that fore may be necessary at times in order to put a stop to human rights violations fits in line with the liberal interventionist argument as well.
Therefor, it can be said that the responsibility to protect is composed from core ideas of liberal internationalism. Dunne and MacDonald (2013:5) state that the international ‘is itself constituted by rules and institutions that have an affinity with liberalism without necessarily being dependent upon the preferences of liberal states. Once this has been admitted, we open up the possibility that the liberal world order could be held together by the actions of the non-liberal states. There are, however, questions of legitimacy when it comes to the responsibility to protect.
After witnessing the destabilization that has gone on in the Middle East, some question whether or not intervention can do more harm that good at times (—). Since 2001 and the beginning of the Responsibility to Protect, there have been a number of humanitarian interventions. Although the idea of protecting civilians did not originate from the Responsibility to Protect, what it did do was legitimize intervention when concerning questions surrounding sovereignty.
However, what the Responsibility to Protect has done as well, is highlight that large risks and costs that are associated with large scale military interventions and nation building missions (—). There are also concerns relating to the issue of states possibly have self-serving or imperialistic intentions behind their decisions to intervene. The results of interventions may have short-term success, but cannot always ensure outcomes that are sustainable over time.
Moreover, negative consequences of interventions may leave a government quite fragile, as well as a society that has been rewarded freedom through intense conflict. Walzer (2002), points out that foreign politicians as well as soldiers often underestimate the situation or misread that force required to change it. However, it remains to be believed in terms of Liberal Internationalism that state sovereignty cannot be absolute. The sole purpose of the responsibility to protect is to provide a basic understanding of the structure of states intervening in another state that is proving unable to protect its citizens.