How are Human Rights Used as Arguments for Political and Military Intervention?

Forms of Geopolitical Intervention

  • Interventionism is a broad term for the activity undertaken by a state to manipulate the economy, society and/or the political standing of another nation.
  • Military intervention involves the deliberate act of a nation introducing its military force to solve a controversy usually in another country.
  • An economic intervention is taken by the government to regulate issues of fraud, enforce contracts and provide public goods which would otherwise not be provided.
  • Geopolitical intervention addresses development and human right issues by providing development aid, trade embargoes, military aid, indirect and direct military action.
  • Interventions are promoted by International Governmental Organisations, for example the World Bank, national governments and NGOs, such as the Human Rights Watch.
  • However, the validity of these interventions is often debateable as they vary in aggression.
  • Some Western governments, such as the USA, condemn human right violations and use them as conditions for offering aid, negotiating trade agreements and undertaking military intervention which can challenge ideas of national sovereignty as other nations may not want to adopt western rights and laws.


Development Impacts

  • Development aid takes numerous forms, from charitable gifts addressing hazard impacts to International Organisations offering loans. Charitable gifts are often given by NGOs such as Khalsa Aid, Oxfam, and Christian Aid as well as from national governments.
  • After the Haiti earthquake of 2010, the United States offered aid and assistance to Haiti, so the nation could recover quickly.
  • Funds from the Unites States have supported food assistance programs including a school lunch program that feeds 500,000 children daily, agriculture development programs optimising Haiti’s coffee sector, teacher training programs, the opening of family planning practices in rural areas and health care programs for child immunisation.
  • The impact of development aid is contested; successful programs include dealing with life threatening conditions, such as malaria, whilst improving human rights, particularly gender equality.
  • Critics argue that aid and intervention has created dependency which invites corruption as elites gain power at the expense of human rights and minority groups.
  • Some economic developments have serious environmental impacts which degrades locations inhabited by minority groups.
  • This disregards to their human rights to their land and culture.
  • For instance, land grabbing in East Africa particularly in Kenya from TNCs boxes out small rural communities who are powerless against large international corporations.


Military Aid and Intervention

  • Military interventions may be driven by global strategic interests but are covered by nations claiming they are reinforcing human rights. For instance, the USA’s invasion of the Middle East was largely for economic gain though this was not admitted.
  • Military aid, such as training and weapons sales, can support countries who have questionable human right records. A strong military could enforce human rights within the nation.
  • Direct military intervention is becoming part of a ‘war on terror’ to eliminate torture and the abuse of human rights.