AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies

Protection of civilians during armed conflits: Kosovo War as a case study

by Francesca NOTARO

Institution: Roskilde University
Year: 2015
Keywords: kosovo; war; human rights; international law
Record ID: 1119022
Full text PDF: http://rudar.ruc.dk/handle/1800/21517


The modern idea of humanitarian intervention was a creation of the post-Cold War period, and it was closely linked to optimistic expectations of the establishment of a ‘new world order’. This study will deal with the way International Law seeks to prevent or stop Civilian Rights Violations during Armed Conflicts, relying on Geneva Convention and its appendices. The purpose of this thesis is to present of the lack of a truly defined international vision regarding Humanitarian Intervention and study the different options to protect civilians during conflicts. Reminding this assumptions is important to understand that the state-system has traditionally been based on a rejection of intervention, since international law has largely been constructed around the respect of state sovereignty. This means state borders are, or should be, inviolable. Nevertheless, it has also long been recognized that intervention may be justifiable on humanitarian grounds. Francisco de Vitoria (c. 1492–1546) and Hugo Grotius, for example, each acknowledged a right of intervention to prevent the maltreatment by a state of its own subjects, making them, effectively, early theorists of humanitarian intervention. Focusing on the kind of contradictions we can find in the field of International Relations, both theoretically and practically, we will try to understand why International Humanitarian Law has not always been sufficient enough to prevent civilians from abuses. Kosovo War will be used as a case study in order to underline the shift between what Humanitarian Law is supposed to guarantee and the real consequences when it is applied. This conflict caused more civilian than military deaths, giving us a clear example to understand the risks civilians have to face because of inability of International Organizations, Law and International System to stop this kind of abuses. Kosovo War also raises questions about the nature and aim of the use of coercive force for humanitarian reasons, and allows us to underline the slight differences between a legal and a legitimate military intervention.