Humanitarian Intervention: A History

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The dilemma of how best to protect human rights is one of the most persistent problems facing the international community today. This unique and wide-ranging history of humanitarian intervention examines responses to oppression, persecution and mass atrocities from the emergence of the international state system and international law in the late sixteenth century, to the end of the twentieth century. Leading scholars show how opposition to tyranny and to religious persecution evolved from notions of the common interests of 'Christendom' to ultimately incorporate all people under the concept of 'human rights'. As well as examining specific episodes of intervention, the authors consider how these have been perceived and justified over time, and offer important new insights into ideas of national sovereignty, international relations and law, as well as political thought and the development of current theories of 'international community'.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Humanitarian Intervention is both well-conceived and well-executed as an edited collection. The essays and editors’ remarks alike are integrated seamlessly, with enough contextual overlap to see the connections between chapters. Additionally, this book does not give the sense of a teleological ‘progress’ towards modern conceptions of intervention. Rather, the diversity of the contributions adds to the impression that in each case there were historically contingent decisions being made in response to local and international, as well as timely legal and moral understandings of humanitarian intervention."
Reviews in History

"One of Simms and Trim's expressed objectives is to show the 'rich and varied' history of humanitarian intervention, which is definitely achieved."
International Affairs

"… a rich and stimulating attempt to explain foreign intervention for humanitarian purposes."
English Historical Review

"… editors Brendan Simms and D. J. B. Trim have produced a critically important historical analysis of the policies, practices, and purposes of foreign intrusions in the affairs of other nations for humanitarian purposes from the 1500s to the present. … The single volume compilation is not exhaustive in its treatment, nor could it be, but its essays are historically and conceptually rich."
The Journal of World History

"The historic analysis is insightful yet targets certain issues within the intervention debate, which makes reading the book challenging and exciting …"
The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521190275
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/7/2011
  • Pages: 424
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Brendan Simms is Professor of the History of European International Relations and Director of the Centre of International Studies, University of Cambridge, where he is a Fellow of Peterhouse. His previous publications include Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia (2001), Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire (2007) and Cultures of Power in Europe during the Long 18th Century (as co-editor, Cambridge University Press, 2007).

D. J. B. Trim is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Reading. His previous publications include Amphibious Warfare 1000–1700: Commerce, State Formation and European Expansion (as co-editor, 2006), and European Warfare, 1350–1750 (as co-editor, Cambridge University Press, 2010).

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Table of Contents

1. Towards a history of humanitarian intervention Brendan Simms and D. J. B. Trim; Part I. Early-Modern Precedents: 2. 'If a prince use tyrannie towards his people': interventions on behalf of foreign populations in early-modern Europe D. J. B. Trim; 3. The Protestant interest and the history of humanitarian intervention, c.1685–c.1756 Andrew Thompson; 4. 'The age of chivalry is not dead': the idea of humanitarian intervention in the era of Burke Brendan Simms; Part II. The Great Powers and the Ottoman Empire: 5. 'From an umpire to a competitor': Castlereagh, Canning and the issue of international intervention in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars John Bew; 6. Intervening in the Jewish question, 1840–78 Abigail Green; 7. The 'principles of humanity' and the European powers' intervention in Ottoman Lebanon and Syria in 1860–1 Davide Rodogno; 8. The guarantees of humanity: the Concert of Europe and the origins of the Russo-Ottoman War of 1877 Matthias Schulz; 9. The European powers' intervention in Macedonia, 1903–8: an instance of humanitarian intervention? Davide Rodogno; Part III. Intervening in Africa: 10. The price of legitimacy in humanitarian intervention: Britain, the European powers and the abolition of the West African slave trade, 1807–67 Maeve Ryan; 11. British anti-slave trade and anti-slavery policy in East Africa, Arabia, and Turkey in the late nineteenth century William Mulligan; 12. The origins of humanitarian intervention in Sudan: Anglo-American missionaries after 1899 Gideon Mailer; Part IV. Non-European States: 13. Humanitarian intervention, democracy, and imperialism: the American war with Spain, 1898, and after Mike Sewell; 14. The innovation of the Jackson–Vanik Amendment Thomas Probert; 15. Fraternal aid, self-defence, or self-interest? Vietnam's intervention in Cambodia (1978–89) Sophie Quinn-Judge; Part V. Postscript: 16. Humanitarian intervention since 1990 and 'liberal interventionism' Matthew Jamison; 17. Humanitarian intervention in historical perspective D. J. B. Trim.

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