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Killing to rescue?: liberal political theory, non-consequentialist ethics and military humanitarian intervention

Leveringhaus, Alexander Christoph (2010) Killing to rescue?: liberal political theory, non-consequentialist ethics and military humanitarian intervention. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis offers a philosophical defence of military humanitarian intervention (MHI). To do so, it develops the ‘other-defensive conception’ of MHI. The other- defensive conception of MHI draws an analogy between so-called rescue killings in domestic society and MHI. In a domestic rescue killing, a rescuer defends a victim against an unjust aggressor. In fact, the thesis argues that the rescuer has a right to intervene on behalf of the victim. This right is correlated to a negative duty falling upon the attacker not to resist the intervention. By analogy, a state that is guilty of committing Atrocity Crimes against those under its rule forfeits its equal sovereign standing in international society. As a result, an intervening state does not violate negative duties not to aggress the ‘target’ state. Further, like a rescuer in a domestic rescue killing, the intervening state is holder of a (moral) right to intervene. The latter obliges the target state not to resist the intervention. The thesis supports this claim through two additional arguments. First, it argues that because Atrocity Crimes constitute grave moral evils, a military response to them is proportionate. Second, states that commit Atrocity Crimes do not perform their sovereign function of preserving the peace amongst those under their rule. Accordingly, the purpose of MHI is not merely to halt Atrocity Crimes, but also to reconstruct stable political institutions in the target state. On this basis the thesis explores the following four issues: 1) the relationship between the declaration of war and its conduct, 2) the problem of non-combatant immunity, 3) the foundation of a duty to intervene, and 4) the ethics of humanitarian occupation. In doings so, it offers a comprehensive discussion of central problems in contemporary just war theory and the ethics of killing and saving.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2010 Alexander Christoph Leveringhaus
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Fabre, Cécile and Kelly, Paul

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