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This article will examine seven instances in which a group of states or regional organizations have intervened with military force in an ongoing civil war either because their interests were directly threatened or in order to avert grave humanitarian consequences. Parts I and II will define and explore the various permutations of multilateral and regional intervention. Part III will summarize the legal justifications advanced in favor of or against multilateral military intervention. Part IV will examine, through the use of country case studies, interventions where states either deviated from or ignored completely Article 2(4)'s prohibition against the use of force without prior Security Council authorization. The article will address the interventions by: (1) Belgium and the United States in the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.) in 1964; (2) the U.S. and Organization of American States (OAS) in the Dominican Republic in 1965; (3) France and Belgium in Zaire in 1978; (4) the United States and the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) in Liberia in 1990; (5) the U.S. and Allied Forces in Iraq in 1991; (6) ECOMOG in Sierra Leone in 1997; and (7) NATO in Kosovo in 1998. In conclusion, this article will show that despite slight deviations from the old formulas, the Security Council has proven that it is flexible to new understandings of the function and purpose of international law.


Posted with permission of the New York University Journal of International Law and Politics.