EUT304 - Just War and Humanitarian Intervention Michael Walzer and International Justice

SchoolCardiff School of European Languages, Translation
Department CodeEUROS0
Module CodeEUT304
External Subject CodeR900
Number of Credits15
Language of DeliveryEnglish
Module Leader Professor Peter Sutch
SemesterSpring Semester
Academic Year2013/4

Outline Description of Module

The challenge of articulating, systematising and institutionalising a strategy for legitimate humanitarian intervention is one which has bedevilled and eluded academics for generations. Although Just War Theory provides one of the most established and, in many respects, most compelling frameworks for the intervention debate, its ethical and practical limitations have been well rehearsed. There are those for whom JWT is a convenient and disingenuous guise for ‘power politics’ (realists); those who argue that its abuse has the potential to compromise cultural diversity and imperil international order (pluralists), and those concerned that its selective application ensures that it remains an inadequate approach to the protection of human rights (a common concern amongst solidarists and cosmopolitans). Critical theorists and feminists go further, arguing that the very language of JWT conforms to a dominate discourse, which simply perpetuates global inequalities. In view of this lack of consensus, developments such as the ‘emergence’ of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’, and the recent military engagement in Libya necessitate sustained and extensive critical analysis. This course aims to call into question: when and if intervention may be justified; whether the appraisal of ‘just cause’ ought to be systematic or casuisitical; which agent or agents might be best equipped to spearhead such campaigns; what sorts of limitations ought to placed on the military means employed, and how the aftermath of an intervention may be managed to secure a ‘just settlement’. Students will come to appreciate how international relations theory can illuminate these dilemmas and will also be called upon to apply these lessons to real world case studies, in an attempt to appraise whether it is possible and morally desirable to create and sustain a tenable doctrine of humanitarian intervention in international society.

On completion of the module a student should be able to

On successful completion of the module a student will be able to:

How the module will be delivered

How the module will be delivered

The module is delivered across 5 three hour seminars, held in successive weeks in the Spring Semester. Each student will be expected to participate in individual and/or group presentations

Skills that will be practised and developed

Skills that will be practised and developed


·         Presentation skills

·         Independent research

·         Group work

·         Time management

·         Close reading and discourse analysis

           Engagement with the language and functions of international institutions

How the module will be assessed

The module is assessed via one piece of summative assessment; specifically, a 3,000 word essay

Type of assessment





(if applicable)

Approx. date of Assessment





April 2014



The opportunity for reassessment in this module

Students who not secure a passing grade in their assignment, will be offered the opportunity to resubmit over the Summer.

Assessment Breakdown

Type % Title Duration(hrs) Period Week
Written Assessment 100
N/A 1 N/A

Syllabus content

·         The Just War Tradition

·         Michael Walzer on the relationship between Just War theory and humanitarian intervention

·         Nicholas Wheeler on the evolving ‘norms’ of humanitarian intervention

·         Allen Buchanan on the assertive liberal arguments in favouring of modifying the Just War

·         Anne Orford on the use of ‘heroic narratives’ to justify intervention

·         Interventionism in the 1990s

·         The Rwandan Genocide

·         The Arab Spring

·         The Responsibility to Protect

Essential Reading and Resource List

Bellamy, A. J. Just War: From Cicero to Iraq

Buchanan, A. (2004)  Justice, Legitimacy and Self-Determination: Moral Foundations for International Law, Oxford University Press

Buchanan, A. and Keohane, R.O. ‘The Preventive Use of Force: A Cosmopolitan Institutional Proposal’, [Reprinted from] Ethics & International Affairs,18(1), 2004, pp.1-22

Buchanan, A. ‘Institutionalising the Just War’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 34(1), 2006, pp.2-38

Elshtain J.B. (2004) Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World

Engle, K (2007) “Calling in the Troops”: The Uneasy Relationship Among Women’s Rights, Human Rights, and Humanitarian Intervention Harvard Journal of Human Rights (20)

Evans, M. (200) Just War Theory: A Reappraisal

Fixdal, M. (1998) ‘Humanitarian Intervention and Just War’ in Mershon International Studies Review

Hudson, K.A. (2011) ‘Justice, Intervention and Force in International Relations: Reassessing the Just War Theory in the 21st Century’ in Contemporary Security Studies

Hutchings, K (2007) ‘Feminist Ethics and Political Violence’ International Politics 44(1)

Orford, A. (1999) ‘Muscular Humanitarianism: Reading the Narratives of the New Humanitarianism’ European Journal of International Law 10(4)

Orford, A. (2003) Reading Humanitarian Intervention: Human Rights and the Use of Force in International Law, Cambridge University Press

Orford, A. (2006) International Law and its Others, Cambridge University Press

Orford, A. (2011) International Authority and the Responsibility to Protect, Cambridge University Press

Sjoberg, L. (2006) Gender, Justice and the Wars in Iraq: A Feminist Reformulation of Just War Theory

Sutch, P. ‘International Justice and the Reform of Global Governance: A Reconsideration of Michael Walzer’s International Political Theory, Review of International Studies, 35, 2009, pp.513-530

Walzer, M. Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations,(New York, Basics Books, 2000)

Walzer, M. Thick and Thin: Moral Argument at Home and Abroad (Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 2002)

Walzer, M. ‘Arguing for Humanitarian Intervention’, Nicolaus Mills and Kira Brunner (eds), The New Killing Fields: Massacre and the Politics of Intervention, (New York, Basic Books, 2003)

Wheeler, N.J. ‘Humanitarian Intervention after Kosovo: Emergent Norm, Moral Duty, or the coming of Anarchy, International Affairs, 77(1), January, 2001, pp.113-128

Wheeler, N.J.,(2002) Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society,Oxford University Press

Wheeler, N.J. ‘The Humanitarian Responsibilities of Sovereignty: Explaining the Development of a New Norm of Military Intervention for Humanitarian Purposes in International Society’, Jennifer M. Welsh (ed), (2002), From Right to Responsibility: Humanitarian Intervention and International Society, Oxford University Press

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