Saving humans through military force?

Dr Edward Newman on whether cross-border intervention is justified to prevent or stop atrocities.

Two years ago the UN Security Council authorised all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in Libya. Resolution 1973 precipitated an international military attack against Libya for human protection purposes and was heralded as a major step forward in the international protection of civilians.

Two years on, the implementation of Resolution 1973 is regarded as being highly controversial, and perhaps even a step back in the protection agenda. It also now serves as a point of tension between the Western states which led the attack on Libya and important rising powers, notably Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (the BRICS).