As demonstrated by the international reaction to the scenes of state-sponsored violence which all too often characterized the Arab Spring in 2011 and 2012, humanitarian intervention generates intensely divisive debate within academia and amongst policy makers and the general public. It is an issue that directly impacts on the agenda of states, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the United Nations (UN), the African Union and the Arab League. Academics and students from a wide variety of disciplines — including International Relations (IR), philosophy, political theory, security studies, international law and peace studies — engage with the controversies surrounding this topic. It also, most importantly, affects ordinary people: those suffering ‘ethnic cleansing’, civil war and genocide, and those moved by these scenes of human anguish who cry out for ‘something’ to be done.
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