Humanitarian intervention

Authored by: Alex J. Bellamy

The Routledge Handbook of Security Studies

Print publication date:  November  2009
Online publication date:  December  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415463614
eBook ISBN: 9780203866764
Adobe ISBN: 9781135239077


 Download Chapter



In the 1990s, genocide in Rwanda (1994) killed at least 800,000 people, and war in the former Yugoslavia (1992–95) left at least 250,000 dead and forced thousands more to flee. Protracted conflicts in Sierra Leone, Sudan, Haiti, Somalia, Liberia, East Timor, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and elsewhere killed millions more. As of 2008, conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan has cost the lives of around 250,000 people and has forced more than three million people from their homes (Coebergh 2005). Significantly, approximately 90 per cent of the victims in these conflicts were civilians. In what Mary Kaldor famously described as ‘new wars’ (1999), civilian deaths are a direct war aim, not an unfortunate by-product. Although most of these slaughters involved non-state militia groups, typically, the worst perpetrators of crimes against civilians are states. Although the precise figures are contested, according to R. J. Rummel, in the twentieth century, around 40 million people were killed in wars between states, whilst 170 million were killed by their own governments (Rummel 1994: 21). Historically, genocides have ended in one of two ways: either the genocidaires succeed in destroying their target group, or they are defeated in battle. This cold fact is borne out by recent cases. The Rwandan genocide ended with the defeat of the Rwandan government and interahamwe militia at the hands of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF); the carnage in Bosnia came to an end when the military balance turned in favour of a Croat–Muslim coalition backed by NATO airpower; and the bloodshed in Darfur has declined primarily because the Janjaweed militia and their government backers have succeeded in forcing their civilian victims into exile.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.