Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Law (SJD)



First Advisor

Professor Sompong Sucharitkul

Second Advisor

Professor Christian N. Okeke


The concept of intervention for humanitarian reasons has long been a controversial matter in international law and relations. The traditional concept of humanitarian intervention coupled with the use of armed force can be traced back to ancient times, but the opinions of scholars, politicians, diplomats, legal literature and state practice still disagree on its existence and application. On the one hand, some say that intervention for humanitarian reasons cannot be legal, justifiable or permissible. On the other hand, there is growing international concern for the protection of human rights and the right to intervene towards these ends; and for some, there is an obligation to intervene when violations of human rights reach a point that shocks the conscience of mankind. The debate continues. Thus, it is important to re-examine the evolution of the doctrine of humanitarian intervention in international law and relations, and also its existence in history and contemporary practice of states. This is particularly pertinent since recent events relating to internal armed conflicts and their scale of human sufferings resulting from these conflicts have highlighted collective efforts to address the many crises that have arisen. While sovereignty is still important in international relations, humanitarian imperatives have led to more interventions in matters that are considered essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of states. It is in this context that the principle of humanitarian intervention has experienced a revival with ramifications to the extent to which it has been, or is, accepted in practice in the international community.

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