The Protection of Civilians and ethics of humanitarian governance: beyond intervention and resilience

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The principle of the Protection of Civilians (PoC) in armed conflict has ethical repercussions in various actions undertaken by states and international organisations, from humanitarian relief, development aid, and peacekeeping, to warfare and military intervention. While the ethics of humanitarian intervention are instructive in this regard, most PoC practices should be conceived rather as modes of humanitarian governance across borders—from interventionist to resilience‐oriented kinds. The consequences of this for the ethics of PoC are explored in this paper, highlighting questions of power, culture, and complicity. By relating these questions to the ethical strands of solidarist and pluralist internationalism, it positions the ethics of PoC within the broader field of the ethics of world politics. Examples are drawn from recent scholarly debate on PoC efforts in war‐torn countries such as South Sudan. This analysis of the ethics of PoC reconfigures central positions in the debate on humanitarian intervention to an era of global humanitarian governance.

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Kristoffer Liden

Senior Researcher, Peace Research Institute Oslo, Norway.

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