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Humanitarian Intervention versus Humanitarian Action

  • By: Tammy L. MacLean
  • In: Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief
  • Edited by: K. Bradley Penuel & Matt Statler
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Policy (general)

Humanitarian action involves the delivery of basic resources for the survival of civilians affected by conflict or disaster. Humanitarian intervention, on the other hand, refers to the use of military force by an external country on humanitarian grounds. Humanitarian action is based on the principles of impartiality, independence, and neutrality, which were first adopted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and codified under the 1949 Geneva Conventions. According to the United Nations (UN) Charter, a humanitarian intervention is legitimate only when deemed necessary by the UN Security Council to ensure international peace and security. However, in the post-cold war world, countries have increasingly intervened militarily for humanitarian purposes without UN authority. As the number of actors involved in delivering humanitarian assistance has ...

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