Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



In response to recent violations of human rights, some within the international legal community have called not only for intervention but for the establishment of an international court with jurisdiction to hear claims against persons alleged to have committed those violations. This Article questions the premise that it is necessary, or even desirable, for the international legal community to mandate intervention in such circumstances.

First, the Article examines the authority for international intervention to forestall massive human rights violations. Using the recent examples including Kosovo and East Timor, the Author compares scholarly responses with respect to both the human rights violations and the subsequent interventions. While the Author concludes that there may be some reason to believe that humanitarian interventions are legal, there is no clear authority that states have an affirmative obligation to forestall massive human rights violations in other states.

Second, the Article questions whether it is possible to implement a rule requiring international intervention to prevent such outbreaks of violence. Recognition of the difficulty of responding to human rights violations around the world complicates any formulation of a rule requiring action against evil.