Munk Debate on Humanitarian Intervention

In IS 302 today, we watched the opening statements of four distinguished panelists debating the merits of humanitarian intervention, which was held at the Munk Centre of the University of Toronto in 2008. Two panelists–Gareth Evans and Mia Farrow–took the pro-intervention side, while the other two–John Bolton and General Rick Hillier–argued in support of the anti-interventionist position.

Here are just some of the issues that were discussed in class following the viewing:

  • Evans’ reformulation of the concept of “the national interest.” Why did he do this? Were you convinced?
  • Bolton’s admonition that if you want to intervene militarily to prevent humanitarian crises, do it with your soldiers, not mine.
  • Farrow’s claim that states currently have the responsibility–as a result of international conventions and treaties–to do everything within their means to stop humanitarian disasters and genocides such as those occurring in Sudan.
  • Hillier’s claim that if the international community were truly serious about intervening in a manner consistent with the rhetoric, governments in countries such as Canada and Australia would have to double the size and capabilities of their militaries. That they don’t is a sign, Hillier asserts, of the lack of will on the part of these countries specifically, and the broader humanitarian world more generally.
  • A link to the whole video can be found here. Note that you’ll have to register with the Munk Centre website in order to be able to watch the video.

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