AbstractsPolitical Science


The thesis compares the ideas of two prominent figures in contemporary political philosophy, John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas, about humanitarian intervention and initiatives to preempt such moves. Indeed this thesis asks two important questions. Firstly, how do Rawls and Habermas justify humanitarian intervention in cases of gross violations of human rights? And secondly, how do they prevent those gross violations under the threshold of humanitarian intervention. I compare the philosophers’ answers to these questions and analyze which one better tackles the problems of gross violations of human rights. Both philosophers consider humanitarian intervention as a legitimate political means to prevent gross violations of human rights around the world. It is true that resort to humanitarian intervention is sometimes the only effective means to stop or de-escalate atrocities. However, I argue this should not obscure the fact that humanitarian intervention usually causes a range of new human rights violations because of its coercive nature. Moreover, as gross human rights violations provide the justification for resort to humanitarian intervention, shouldn’t we search for initiatives to reduce the possibility of those violations in the first instance? Indeed, Rawls and Habermas have attended to this question, too, in their theories of just international order. The ideas of Rawls and Habermas on the justification of humanitarian intervention, as well as initiatives to pre-empt it, are tightly interconnected with other elements of their theories. Therefore, this thesis first outlines the two philosophers’ viewpoints on global justice and international human rights. It then analyzes and compares their thoughts on humanitarian intervention, as well as measures to pre-empt interventions. I conclude that Habermas’s theory provides the ground, better than Rawls, for tackling the problem of gross violations of human rights in today’s world.