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Title: Confronting crisis : norms, argumentation, and humanitarian intervention
Author: Travers, Richard Patrick
ISNI:       0000 0004 2707 1036
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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The purpose of this thesis is theory development. It begins by evaluating existing explanations of why states undertake humanitarian intervention. Realists argue that states only intervene when their national interests are at stake. Normative scholars argue that states are at times motivated to save foreign citizens. Neither approach adequately accounts for the pattern of post-Cold War state practice. Building from this conclusion, the thesis conducts research based on two propositions derived from an analysis of existing debates: that examining state motive holds promise for elucidating the weaknesses in current approaches and that studying state argumentation can provide insight into state motives. To better investigate state motives, a theoretical framework is developed to explain how motives translate into state decision-making and manifest themselves in state argumentation. By employing process tracing, argumentation analysis, and elite interviews, this framework is applied to three cases: Northern Iraq in 1991, Rwanda in 1994, and East Timor in 1999. Each case study constructs a theoretically informed narrative, assesses debates between states at the United Nations Security Council, and evaluates the consistency between state discourse and state practice. The cases are then used heuristically to identify opportunities for improving existing theory and developing new theory. This yields several conclusions. First, not only do states often possess mixed motives, but the humanitarian impulse also appears in some cases to have been a necessary condition for humanitarian intervention. Second, the norm of humanitarian intervention does not function as a general rule. Rather, it is a cluster of principles derived from just war theory and international law, but also connected to related norms about sovereignty, human rights, and self-determination. Third, state decision-making is a collective process structured by the prevailing post-Cold War institutional and normative context. The thesis concludes by outlining promising avenues of research for better understanding why states respond to some occurrences of mass atrocities and not others.
Supervisor: Welsh, Jennifer Sponsor: British Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political science ; International studies ; War (politics) ; Ethics (Moral philosophy) ; international relations ; International Relations Theory ; humanitarian intervention ; foreign policy ; International Normative Theory ; argumentation